Hlaudi's COO appointment was 'skop, skiet and donner', MPs hear

Cape Town - Former SABC board member Vusi Mavuso has revealed no processes were followed by the board in its appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng to permanent chief operating officer in 2014.

Mavuso was testifying under oath before Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board on Thursday.

He explained how he and other board members were summoned to a special, emergency board meeting at 18:00 on July 7, 2014, at SABC headquarters, after working hours.

It was at this meeting that board members were told without prior warning that they would be voting on appointing Motsoeneng, then acting COO, to the position permanently.

Mavuso objected, saying Motsoeneng's appointment needed to follow due process; the position had to be advertised, the job description described, the minimum qualifications provided, and a panel constituted, etc.

"I'm listing these steps intentionally, because none of these were done," he told the committee.
"I don't know how to put it, it was like a skop, skiet and donner. It was a long night."

He said the meeting lasted five hours. Board members argued, but he and two others were in the minority.

Upon its conclusion at 23:00, and Motsoeneng's appointment confirmed by majority decision, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi "walked through the door".

MPs asked him what he made of that.

"The coincidence is just too good to be true," he answered.

Surprise Muthambi visit

He said Muthambi had met the board for the first time a week before that meeting, at an impromptu strategy session in Magaliesburg.

Some of the board members were not expecting her, he said.

At the meeting, she "chided" those board members like Mavuso who were adamant on following due process in implementing the Public Protector's report When Governance and Ethics Fail, released earlier in February that year.

"She was not part of that meeting to be frank. But the programme had to be changed to accommodate her.

"For all intents and purposes she indicated that she was not happy with how the board was functioning."

It was at this meeting that she first suggested Motsoeneng had been "acting" COO for too long, and should be made permanent.

"It was one of the most difficult meetings which I attended," he said.

He contrasted Motsoeneng's appointment to that of current acting CEO James Aguma. All the due processes were followed in Aguma's case. He could not understand why it wasn't in Motsoeneng's case.

Mavuso said he filed more objections in writing after the two meetings, which also fell on deaf ears.

Round-robin decisions

He went on further to explain how Motsoeneng's most recent appointment in September, to group chief executive of corporate affairs, had been made by "round-robin".

"I didn't take kindly to the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as group chief executive of corporate affairs," he said.

"We saw an emergence of taking decisions via Round-Robin. I do not like this Round Robin thing. It is very clear that when people want to avoid an engagement, they settle for a Round-Robin interaction.

He explained that Round Robin decision-making was a proviso at the board's disposal in the event of emergency.

Board members were circulated pertinent documents via email, and would have to respond to the chairperson then and there with their input.

They never saw the results of a vote.

"It became the style of the corporation. It is allowed in an emergency, but it became the norm."

He said no fewer than 20 decisions had been made by round-robin under Maguvhe's leadership.

"There was no board meeting convened, and no intention to discuss the matter of his reappointment."

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