‘Credible law firm’ cleared Hlaudi Motsoeneng of wrongdoing – minister

2014-07-10 13:38

Hlaudi Motsoeneng was cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent law firm and his appointment as SABC chief operations officer was rational, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said today.

Defending her decision to ratify the SABC board’s recommendation to permanently appoint the controversial acting COO, Muthambi said the SABC had commissioned a “credible law firm” to look into the findings of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela against Motsoeneng. The firm had found no wrongdoing, so there was “nothing in the way of confirming the appointment”. She refused to name the law firm or disclose specifics of the findings.

Speaking during question time at a post-Cabinet media briefing, Muthambi said: “There was no pressure [to confirm the appointment]. My decision was rational.

“I believe that the board has exercised due diligence … I respect the independence of the SABC board and I don’t need to interfere,” she said.

She said the board would meet the deadline set by Madonsela to respond to her findings against Motsoeneng.

She said the appointment was not discussed in Cabinet yesterday.

When asked about the ANC being taken by surprise at the appointment, Muthambi said she would not get involved in mudslinging through the media.

“I am a disciplined member of the ANC and I will engage on an appropriate platform,” she said.

Muthambi’s decision to rubber stamp Motsoeneng’s appointment on Tuesday night sparked an outcry from civic groups, unions and the opposition – and also took the ANC by surprise.

In February, Madonsela’s findings against Motsoeneng included that his salary had increased from R1.5 million to R2.4 million in one year and that he had misrepresented his qualifications. She recommended that he be replaced.

Questioned on whether she agreed with Motsoeneng’s suggestion that journalists should obtain licences to operate, Muthambi said: “That is an issue that needs to be discussed. I don’t have an opinion.”

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