Motsoeneng in late bid to stop hearing going ahead

IN HOT WATER: Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng
Picture: ALON SKUY

‘Unemployable’ Hlaudi wants chance to clear name after report findings

Controversial former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng may finally face the music after a last-minute bid to halt a disciplinary hearing failed last night.

Motsoeneng is facing charges of bringing the SABC into disrepute following a bizarre media conference he held last month, where he railed against the SABC board for planning to scrap the 90% local music policy he had implemented.

The disciplinary hearing‚ which was meant to begin at 3pm yesterday, descended into four hours of deliberation over whether it would take place.

Motsoeneng’s lawyer, Zola Majavu, explained that his client was not opposed to being disciplined‚ but wanted the hearing into the misconduct charge combined with a hearing into a previous allegation of misconduct stemming from findings in a report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

“We want them to be combined, not to do this one and then another one,” Majavu said.

“We run the risk that they will fire him for this – and if they fire him‚ he doesn’t get a chance to vindicate himself on the public protector’s report.”

Motsoeneng feels so strongly about clearing his name that he has gone to court.

On Tuesday, he filed papers in the Cape Town High Court saying Madonsela’s 2014 findings had stunted his career progression.

No date has been set for a hearing of the case, which was filed on a semi-urgent basis.

Madonsela found that Motsoeneng’s employment at the SABC was irregular as he had misled the organisation about his qualifications by fabricating matric symbols.

“The very nature of that office [public protector] is that its conclusions hold weight in the public discourse‚ and as the Democratic Alliance argued‚ I am ‘unemployable’ for so long as its conclusions stand,” Motsoeneng said in court papers.

“My further career progression is thus stunted until the issues raised by the public protector are finalised.”

He has also criticised the current hearing‚ calling it “an abuse [of process] stemming from ulterior motives”.

Yesterday, hearing chairman Advocate Nazeem Cassim was reluctant to postpone the matter. The SABC had argued that proceedings should go ahead because there was no basis for postponement.

After hours of discussions, Cassim said the ruling should start – only for both sides to ask for time to prepare.

Now the hearing is expected to begin at 11.30am today, if Motsoeneng chooses not to bring another legal challenge.

However‚ Majavu has left the door open for another challenge. “The charges arising from the press briefing should be combined with the charges arising from the Western Cape High Court so that he does not have two separate disciplinary hearings,” he said late last night.

“The matter is not concluded yet. We will still argue taking the matter to the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration].”

Motsoeneng also cast a shadow over parliament yesterday, where SABC chief financial officer and acting chief executive James Aguma came under heavy criticism.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard that Aguma had filed an affidavit in support of Motsoeneng at the disciplinary hearing‚ saying he had given permission for the media conference

Aguma did not appear before the committee‚ which was addressed by Communications Minister Ayanda Dlolo‚ due to illness.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth called for Aguma to be sanctioned immediately.

He said Aguma had told the communications portfolio committee last week he had not authorised Motsoeneng’s media conference “and therefore he lied in parliament and that’s a criminal act”.

The ANC backed the call‚ issuing a statement after yesterday’s committee meeting which said, among other things, that Aguma had been at the centre of expenditure and procurement irregularities at the SABC, and that he was evading parliament. – TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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