Public broadcaster a public ‘fraudster’ – Madonsela

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Michel Bega

Fraud, maladministration, misrepresentations, improper conduct and abuse of power.

These are just some of the findings released by the Public Protector on the SABC’s acting chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Thuli Madonsela’s report ‘When Governance and Ethics Fail’ found that several allegations against the controversial Motsoeneng could be substantiated.

Among other allegations, Madonsela found that Motsoeneng’s appointment was irregular, that he committed fraud by falsifying his matric certificate, gave himself crooked pay increases and purged of senior employees at SABC.

Motsoeneng’s appointment was found to be irregular as SABC allowed him to act for a period in excess of three months without the requisite Board resolution and exceeding the capped salary allowance.

In addition, Motsoeneng received salary appraisals three times in one year. He hiked his salary by R900 000 from R1.5 million per year to R2.4 million.

Madonsela also found that Motsoeneng had fraudulently misrepresented his qualifications to the SABC on appointment, including that he had passed matric.

“By his own admission, Mr Motsoeneng stated in his application form that he had passed matric, filled in made-up symbols in the same application form, and promised to supply a matric certificate to confirm his qualifications when he knew he did not have the promised certificate, [this] was admitted by him during his interview,” said Madonsela.

Motsoeneng blamed a Mrs Swanepoel and the SABC management stating that they knew he had not passed matric.

“If anything this exacerbates his situation as it shows lack of remorse and ethical conduct,” said Madonsela.

The Public Protector was also concerned that Motsoeneng’s personnel file disappeared when investigations into his qualifications started.

“The circumstantial evidence points to a motive on his part although incontrovertible evidence to allow a definite conclusion that he did in fact cause the disappearance of his employment records, particularly his application forms and CV, could not be found,” she said.

The report tagged Motsoeneng as playing a pivotal role in the “grossly irregular” appointment of SABC Chief Financial Officer Gugu Duda in 2012.

She labelled it as “improper conduct, maladministration and abuse of power”.

Furthermore the allegations that Motsoeneng purged SABC senior staff members which resulted in massive and unnecessary financial losses at the CCMA.

Irregular increase of salaries of various staff members initiated by Motsoeneng was also uncovered.

“These irregular and rapid salary progressions contributed to the National Broadcaster’s unprecedented salary bill escalation by R29 million,” Madonsela said, adding that it amounted to financial mismanagement, improper conduct and maladministration.

Complaints against Motsoeneng were raised with Madonsela by former SABC staff, including former chief operations officer Charlotte Mampane and ex-SABC senior executive Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande in 2011.

Motsoeneng still holds the position of acting COO and the SABC Board has said that it will study the report.

The Public Protector has recommended that the SABC Board take appropriate disciplinary action against Motsoeneng.

Madonsela also said that urgent steps should be taken to fill the long outstanding vacant position of the COO with a suitably qualified permanent incumbent within 90 days.

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