Outrage at SABC move

2014-07-10 00:00

CAPE TOWN — A labour dispute, a legal battle and a “shocked” Public Protector who is going to demand answers from the Minister of Communications and the SABC board.

That was the fallout from the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer without the SABC post being advertised.

Minister Faith Muthambi announced on Tuesday evening that she had confirmed the post, recommended by the board. It has been reported that five of the 12 board members voted against the appointment.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed yesterday that the post was not advertised, but would not be drawn on the reasons.

Hannes du Buisson, president of the union Bemawu, said they have already declared a dispute.

He said it looks as if the SABC will argue that the appointment procedures can be circumvented for strategic posts. But the post is not strategic, Du Buisson said.

Sekoetlane Phamodi of the pressure group Support our SABC (SOS) is also unhappy for the process, as well as because the SABC has not answered ­issues raised in the Public Protector’s report on Motsoeneng.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, said his boss was surprised because she was still waiting for Muthambi and the board’s plans to implement her recommendations.

Masibi said Madonsela will convene a meeting at which Muthambi and the board will be asked to explain in what way the appointment contributes to the remedial steps she recommended.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said his party is flabbergasted by Motsoeneng’s appointment and will go to court to oppose it.

DA spokesperson on communications Gavin Davis described Motsoeneng as a “Goebbels-like figure in President Zuma’s propaganda machine”.

His party is also seeking legal advice.

It was alleged yesterday that Motsoeneng had demanded to be permanently appointed to the post in which he has long served in an acting capacity.

Du Buisson said that could also be advanced as a reason why the post did not have to be advertised, but that would not hold water because Bemawu members who have been in acting positions are regularly told they have to apply for permanent posts.

Former SABC board member ­Suzanne Vos described the appointment as a tragedy. She said it was astonishing that Muthambi appointed Motsoeneng after the previous board, except chairperson Ben Ngubane, rejected him.

In February 2013, Vos and the other board members, including ANC members, recommended that Motsoeneng be removed as operating officer.

According to Vos, the board was then disbanded, with the interference of Luthuli House.

The former minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, said last November the post would be advertised after a court case brought by former SABC staffer Mvuzo Mbebe had been settled.

Mbebe claimed that the post of chief operating officer had been promised to him by the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri when she was minister. Mbebe obtained a court order preventing the permanent appointment of anyone else.

For Motsoeneng to be appointed, the case would have had to be resolved. Mbebe declined to confirm this last night, saying he had agreed with Muthambi that only she would comment on the court case. Repeated attempts to speak to her were unsuccessful.

She said in a statement Motsoeneng’s appointment would bring stability to the SABC, a sentiment echoed by the board chairperson, Ellen Zandile Tshabalala in an interview with the SABC.

PUBLIC Protector Thuli Madonsela was expecting the SABC to fulfill the following on the recommendation of her report before making a permanent appointment:

• Institute a disciplinary hearing against Motsoeneng over his dishonesty about his qualifications, abuse of power and unbecoming conduct in appointments and salary increases and over his role in purging senior personnel.

• That fruitless and questionable spending on disputed salary increases for affected persons would be recovered;

and that

• The Communications Minister would fill that post of chief operating officer with a suitably qualified person.

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