Motsoeneng 'squatting' at SABC - former board member

2016-12-09 16:38
Hlaudi Motsoeneng greets supporters outside the High Court in Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng greets supporters outside the High Court in Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Former SABC board member Krish Naidoo says Hlaudi Motsoeneng is "squatting" at the broadcaster, and can't understand how so many professionals are afraid of a "high school dropout".

Naidoo was testifying under oath before Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board on Friday.

He said, in his time at the broadcaster, former chief operating officer (COO) Motsoeneng had so much power that his "group" could change the recorded time of day in meeting minutes.

"Why were so many educated professionals so beholden to a high school dropout?" he said, while reading out a statement.

"At times, it got so bad, that if one even argued about the time of the day, the outcome would invariably be what the 'Hlaudi group' wanted."

He said the appointment of Motsoeneng as permanent COO in July 2014 was the best indication of this fear. Naiddo said he had voted against it.

After his appointment, Naidoo wrote to company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys to hold an urgent meeting, but received a negative response from her.

Motsoeneng's qualifications

READ: Hlaudi's R500k demand, Guptas, 'Pretoria' take centre stage in SABC inquiry

He cited Motsoeneng's most recent appointment to group executive of corporate affairs as another example, saying it was advised by "some lawyer" at the SABC, and not the board.

"In my view that was unlawful. Here we had someone who had no right to be at a national key point. In fact, he was squatting at a national key point."

He said Hlaudi's qualifications also disqualified him from the position.

Naidoo, a lawyer by profession, said he learnt of Motsoeneng's reappointment on television, and had written to the board many times to provide legal advice.

"The fact that there were so many clouds around him warranted due process into his appointment."

He requested a special board meeting in February 2015 with board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe, following a letter written by Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis, in which he said that the SABC had violated the Broadcasting Act and Company's Act.

That also fell on deaf ears.

No parliamentary support

Naidoo also lamented the treatment of former SABC board members by, not only the executives, but also Parliament's previous portfolio committee on communications.

"Some board members were removed unlawfully, and unsuccessful attempts were made to remove me."

He said Ronnie Lubisi, Hope Zinde and Rachel Kalidass all suffered poor treatment after standing against Motsoeneng's 2014 appointment to COO.

He said Lubisi was charged with "conflict of interest", and Kalidass accused of "fraud".

All were removed by a simple majority decision, despite their protestations. They had also written to the portfolio committee.

"I found it quite strange for some reason that the portfolio committee took the decision that it [their removal] was lawful.

"How do clear thinking members of Parliament come to that decision?"

He said if the portfolio committee's decision was not political interference, then the MPs were "just not clued up on the law".

The company secretary should have done much more to give proper guidance to the board, he said.

Unilateral decisions

Naidoo was asked to give another example of Motsoeneng flouting procedure in making decisions.

"I remember this controversial decision about local content, and Mr Motsoeneng made the decision to air 90% local content so money could flow to local artists.

"The sentiment was fine, but the manner in which it went about was wrong in my view."

He said Motsoeneng had made the decision unilaterally. It too, did not get board approval.

He also said board members were not properly inducted into the SABC - to be brought on par with regards to their role in law - in response to African National Congress MP Juli Killian.

Naidoo resigned from the board publicly during the SABC board's presentation to Parliament's portfolio committee on communications, on October 5, regarding their implementation of the Public Protector's report.

ANC MP Hlomani Chauke asked him why he chose to do it that day, so publicly.

"Oh no, I took the decision well before that. I just thought it was a nice platform to announce it."

The MPs laughed.

The committee will resume on Monday at 09:30. On the witness list are more former board members.

Read more on:    sabc  |  media  |  parliament 2016

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