DA's court application on Motsoeneng premature - SABC

Cape Town- An application to have Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment as SABC COO set aside is premature, a lawyer for the broadcaster told the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

Ngwako Maenetje, for the SABC and its board, argued that a disciplinary inquiry still needed to determine whether or not Motsoeneng was guilty of misconduct.

He could subsequently be exonerated or face a form of disciplinary action.

The Constitutional Court also had to provide clarity on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's powers, Maenetje said.

Judge Dennis Davis was hearing an application by the Democratic Alliance to have the appointment set aside on the basis it was irrational, unlawful and invalid.

Anton Katz, for the DA, had earlier argued that the post was never advertised, no other candidates were considered and Motsoeneng was never interviewed.

Maenetje argued that even though the board had deviated from these procedures to recommend Motsoeneng, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi’s decision to appoint him was lawful and rational.

"We submit that in light of the motivation for Mr Motsoeneng's appointment, his appointment yielded a suitable candidate who had already steered the SABC on a road to recovery," the SABC's court papers stated.

The broadcaster announced in July 2014 that Motsoeneng would be permanently appointed to the post. This was despite Madonsela's remedial action recommendation that he be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry.

Madonsela found he lied about having a matric certificate, and that both his appointment as acting COO and his one-year salary hike from R1.5m to R2.4m were irregular.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Madonsela’s findings could not be ignored and upheld an order that Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days while a disciplinary hearing into his alleged malfeasance was conducted.

The SABC had since asked its lawyers to lodge an urgent appeal with the Constitutional Court.

Maenetje said Motsoeneng was appointed to secure the interests of the SABC and to ensure the broadcaster’s stability.

“On that version, your lordship cannot find the SABC was acting with an ulterior purpose.”

It wanted the court to dismiss the application or to postpone it until after the constitutional court judgment and the completion of the disciplinary inquiry.

The hearing would resume on Wednesday.

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