Reopen the SABC selection

2014-07-13 15:00

The national crisis generated by the presence of one seemingly invincible man at the public broadcaster is a case of sheer audacity and disrespect for the country.

The chain of events leading to the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng only serves to confirm there was no attempt to follow legal processes or the SABC’s articles of association.

A decision appears to have been made elsewhere and it was just being implemented. Motsoeneng is the controversial SABC boss who is responsible for dubious decisions that include canning programmes critical of the ANC and denying opposition parties coverage in the period before the last elections.

Lest we forget, he does not have a matric qualification, yet he is the chief operating officer at the SABC.

What has caused this new crisis is that he was appointed under controversial circumstances during a board meeting last week without the job being advertised.

The board appears not to have acted on the Public Protector’s findings that action be taken against Motsoeneng for misrepresenting his qualifications, purging staff and irregularly increasing his salary. The new communications minister, Faith Muthambi, now says legal advice obtained had cleared Motsoeneng.

What does cleared mean? How much weight is attached to the word of a few lawyers as opposed to the Office of the Public Protector? Why is that report not being released to the public?

Why does Motsoeneng continue to act in a manner that suggests he enjoys political protection even as the ANC distances itself from his appointment? This week, several leaders of the ANC and the SA Communist Party said as much. This prompts the question: whose agenda he is serving.

Reports show he is supported by Muthambi and President Jacob Zuma. Muthambi and SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala must be reminded that the haste and the secretive manner in which they made his appointment is unbecoming and their actions cannot be justified.

They must acknowledge the outcry that comes from this dubious selection and review their action.

The correct step is to restart the process. Let the SABC advertise the post and allow for an open process, even if it includes Motsoeneng.

The legal advice that exonerated him must also be shared with all South Africans.

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