SABC’s Hlaudi wants to stay, by hook or by crook

SABC COO Hlaudi Motoeneng Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA, Business Day
SABC COO Hlaudi Motoeneng

The SABC board is considering a highly controversial proposal that could lead to Hlaudi Motsoeneng making a comeback as the corporation’s chief operating officer.

The Times has obtained a copy of a draft resolution sent to board members on Monday for their approval. The resolution is to the effect that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi be asked to reappoint Motsoeneng as acting COO.

The proposed resolution flies in the face of a damning public protector’s report and rulings against Motsoeneng by the Cape Town High Court and, this week, the Supreme Court of Appeal.

“Since the next board meeting is scheduled for 28 October 2016 the board is requested to recommend that the Honourable Minister approves the appointment of Mr GH Motsoeneng as the Acting COO for the period 19 September 2016 to 18 December 2016 on a Round Robin basis,” the draft document says.

The appointment “will be tabled at the next board meeting for ratification”, the draft resolution says.

The document notes that the SABC memorandum of incorporation allows the board to appoint “any senior employee” as acting COO or acting chief financial officer.

The outcome of the board vote this week on adopting the resolution is not known.

It is understood that some board members voted against adopting the resolution because it went against the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment and the public protector’s findings.

Non-executive board member Krish Naidoo, a lawyer, confirmed that he had refused to approve the resolution.

“The reasons I gave are that it will be contrary to the rule of law, irrational and bordering on illegality,” he told The Times yesterday.

“If you take a decision like this when a court says this guy should not be COO, and you appoint him acting COO, it means you haven’t applied your mind,” he said.

“The SABC is an important institution. The president and the ANC should open their mouths now and say something decisive.”

Naidoo said it was the “end of the road” for Motsoeneng. “It’s time to tell the chap it’s time to pack his bags.”

Naidoo believes directors who voted in favour of the resolution were “acting contrary to the rule of law. You have no option”.

“It would be illegal to vote in favour. A ‘yes’ vote puts you in contempt of court.”

Muthambi’s spokesman, Mish Molakeng, yesterday denied that she had received a request as set out in the SABC board resolution.

“These are unsubstantiated rumours. The ministry has not received such communications from the SABC.”

Other board members could not be reached for comment.

SABC board chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe cut the phone twice when called and did not respond to a request for comment. SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago did not respond to a request for comment from Maguvhe.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Motsoeneng’s application for leave to appeal a ruling of the Cape Town High Court that his appointment was invalid and must be set aside.

Motsoeneng’s lawyer, Zola Majavu, said on Monday that he had told his client that there was little prospect of success if he chose to take the case to the Constitutional Court.

The case was brought to court by the DA, based on a ruling by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in February 2014.

Madonsela found that Motsoeneng had lied about his matric qualification, had increased his salary irregularly from R1.5-million to R2.4-million and had purged employees.

She ruled that a replacement for Motsoeneng should be found within 90 days. But in July 2014 Muthambi appointed him permanent COO.

Earlier this year Muthambi filed an affidavit in support of Motsoeneng’s appeal application.

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