The “alleged” letter written by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board proposing Hlaudi Motsoeneng be reappointed as chief operating officer “raises questions about the board’s ability to discharge its fiduciary responsibilities”.
That’s according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ who said on Friday that should Motsoeneng return to the position‚ a probe should be launched into the board’s conduct.
Communication Minister Faith Muthambi said earlier on Friday that she has not “formally received” the letter from the board requesting that Motsoeneng be re-appointed in an acting capacity. Madonsela told Radio 702 that she had written to Muthambi to say “she should reject the letter because it would be irrational‚ unreasonable‚ unlawful and it is generally a violation of principles of corporate governance” and sections of the Constitution.
“I also asked the minister to ensure that‚ if such a letter was received‚ she assesses the ability of this board to discharge its responsibilities.”
Madonsela also said that she had reminded Muthambi that the public protector’s office was currently investigating “various allegations of corruption‚ abuse of power and maladministration by Mr Motsoeneng‚ who is alleged to have been involved in wrongful procurement‚ dismissal of people who are standing in his way‚ letting people go and paying them a fortune”.
She added it was also alleged that the “board allows Mr Motsoeneng to do whatever he pleases‚ and in return the board gets to have any many meetings as it wants‚ and obviosly gets paid for those sittings”.
Motsoeneng is effectively an ordinary SABC employee after the SCA earlier this week dismissed his application for leave to appeal a ruling by the Western Cape High Court‚ which set aside his permanent appointment. That ruling also affirmed the findings of a report by Madonsela to said he had lied about his qualifications.
On the SABC board’s request to retain Motsoeneng at the state broadcaster‚ Muthambi’s office said in a statement: “The ministry is aware of a letter purporting to be from the SABC‚ suggesting that the board request approval for the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as acting chief operating officer.
“We want to state categorically that we have not formally received such letter from the SABC board for the minister’s consideration.”
This was after a memo from group company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys to board members proposing that Motsoeneng be appointed acting COO until December 2016 came to light on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Mish Molakeng on Friday said the minister has not been formally asked to reappoint Motsoeneng.
“As the shareholder representative‚ our duty is to wait for the SABC to engage us formally on this matter‚ in line with the mandate of the broadcaster‚” Molakeng said.
“Until such time‚ it would be highly in appropriate for the ministry to make public pronouncements.”
Motsoeneng’s lawyer‚ Zola Majavu‚ reportedly sent a letter to the SABC board demanding an explanation about his client’s role at the state broadcaster.
Motsoeneng was suffering from emotional stress‚ Majavu wrote in the letter. The Presidency on Friday commented on the controversy by saying it “noted and respects the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal”.
A statement noted that at a meeting “between government and the judiciary last year‚ it was reaffirmed that government would respect court rulings”.
“Government fully abides by that undertaking‚” the statement added.
That undertaking was made after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng requested the meeting with President Jacob Zuma following criticism levelled at judiciary by Cabinet ministers and ruling party leaders.
“The courts are the highest arbiters in disputes in society and all in our country must respect the courts and ensure that the Constitution and the rule of law prevail at all times‚” Friday’s statement said.
It is not clear what motivated the statement‚ but Motsoeneng has long been seen as untouchable because of his proximity to Zuma.