ANC, Thuli gun for Faith Muthambi

2014-07-13 15:00

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New Communications Minister Faith Muthambi faces the ire of her Cabinet colleagues – and that of the ANC – over the formal appointment of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The ANC has “invited” Muthambi to a meeting for her to explain her decision, and the party’s alliance partner, the SA Communist Party (SACP), has called for Motsoeneng’s appointment to be rescinded.

But a source close to Muthambi insisted she briefed ANC President Jacob Zuma on the appointment. The presidency, however, issued a statement saying the president had “no role to play in the appointment of SABC management or staff”.

Meanwhile, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has written to Zuma and Parliament, informing them of her decision to investigate the appointment.

Madonsela wrote to Muthambi and the SABC board, demanding to know how the appointment was made, after her report found that Motsoeneng lied about having a matric, purged staff and gave himself an irregular salary ­increase.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party’s communications subcommittee head, Lindiwe Zulu, called Muthambi to a meeting.

“We had expected that they would brief the ANC and take it into confidence so that we can be able to answer questions from the media. This is especially so because of the controversy over this post before,” he said.

Kodwa said the party would then decide what to do. “It would be premature to say that we will ask for the appointment process to start afresh ­because we still don’t know what happened.”

SACP general secretary and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said they were “unhappy about the blatantly illegal appointment of a chief operating officer”.

“How do you appoint someone without the requisite experience and without a qualification? It’s outrageous. We are deeply offended,” he said.

“All these shenanigans have to do with tenders: with the shift from analogue to digital. As the SACP, we will push for the [SABC] board to rescind this decision. The SABC is a R4?billion public broadcaster – you need someone professional with university qualifications.”

But a source close to Muthambi said: “Surely the ANC should know better than to think the minister acted alone? She did not just wake up and make this decision. If she informed the president of the ANC, is that not notifying the ANC?

“Ministers announce things all the time. There’s Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti making major policy changes in land?...?Did he consult the subcommittee?

“The minister cannot be held responsible if the president did not convey his discussion with her to the rest of the leadership,” the source said.

Madonsela said she has received more than 30 complaints since Muthambi confirmed Motsoeneng’s appointment on Tuesday.

Although these were only allegations at this stage, Madonsela said she was concerned that Muthambi allegedly applied pressure on the board to permanently appoint Motsoeneng.

“The appointment is a governance and ethics failure in its own right and hence we have commenced a new investigation into this,” Madonsela said.

Madonsela has asked for copies of the board pack containing documents explaining how Motsoeneng was hired and why he was “the best candidate for the job”.

She said: “There was no advert for the post and there was no selection committee.”

Other allegations include:

»The board did not adopt the Mchunu Attorneys report, which Muthambi said “cleared”

Motsoeneng of wrongdoing;

»Muthambi called the board meeting, which is against the rules because only chairperson Ellen Tshabalala and the company secretary are allowed to do so;

»Muthambi waited in a nearby room for three hours while board members discussed whether or not to appoint Motsoeneng;

»Tshabalala unilaterally appointed Mchunu ­Attorneys without the board’s approval; and

»The board asked Tshabalala not to formally adopt the report because they did not agree with its findings.

Madonsela said the allegations were serious and she would have preferred the board to have applied for a court review of her report rather than appoint Motsoeneng without telling her.

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