Minister lied to SABC board over COO appointment

Johannesburg - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi reportedly lied to the SABC board over the permanent appointment of the public broadcaster’s chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

According to the Sunday Times, Muthambi allegedly ignored the fact that no formal settlement had been reached with the previous chief operating officer (COO), Mvuzo Mbebe.

According to the board’s chairperson Zandile Tshabalala, Muthambi  informed her on Monday night, before a board meeting, that the Mbebe issue had been resolved and that they could proceed with the permanent appointment of a chief operating officer. Muthambi confirmed the appointment on Tuesday.

However, no agreement has been reached with Mbebe, who successfully brought an interdict against the SABC in 2008 preventing the broadcaster from filling the position until his own matter had been settled.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma distanced himself from the issue, saying he had nothing to do with the appointment.

"The president has no role to play in the appointment of SABC management or staff and did not play any role in the said appointment," the presidency said in a statement.

"Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and unfortunate."

A report published in the Mail & Guardian on Friday suggested that Zuma had favoured Motsoeneng for the position.

In February, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report in which she found Motsoeneng's SABC appointment as acting COO irregular.

Among other things, his salary increased from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year.

She also found he had misrepresented his qualifications - that he passed matric - to the SABC, and recommended that he be replaced.

Last week, political parties called for him to be relieved of his duties after he suggested that journalists should have a licence to practice like in the medical and law professions.

Also last week, Motsoeneng appeared before Parliament to present a strategic plan and budget for the SABC, which received a disclaimer of opinion from the auditor general - the most adverse finding it can make.

Parliament also heard that the SABC was losing advertisers and viewers while under Motsoeneng's leadership.

Madonsela's office on Friday confirmed that it would launch a new investigation into Motsoeneng
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