Question mark over SABC’s Motsoeneng after report

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

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

It is not certain if SABC acting chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng will be sitting behind his desk today, following a condemning report by the Public Protector on his activities within the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), including maladministration and abuse of power.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela yesterday released the report titled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, following an “investigation into allegations of maladministration, systemic corporate governance deficiencies, abuse of power and the irregular appoinment of Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng by the SABC”.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said yesterday the full report was still to be handed over to the public broadcaster’s board for it to be assessed.

Without pre-empting the outcome of the board’s decision, he said the “process was simple”.

“After studying the report, the board will consider what actions to take. They must look at the merits and will then give reasons why they came to that decision.”

Kganyago could not comment on whether Motsoeneng would be placed on special leave while this process took place.

“At this moment there is nothing to say except that they (the board) will study the report and respond appropriately.”

The communications department could not comment on the due processes it would take in respect to the report. “We will stick to what we communicated,” said department spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza.

This follows a call by the DA for Minister Yunus Carrim “in his capacity as the shareholder’s representative”, to instruct the SABC board to immediately suspend Motsoeneng.

“Mr Motsoeneng must be removed from the premises and forbidden access to any SABC staff during the process of determining his possible permanent removal from the corporation.

“He must also be forbidden to have contact with the SABC board, with whom he has an unhealthy close and protective relationship,” DA MP Marian Shinn said in a statement.

Qoza said the ministry had still not gained access to the report, and “recognised the SABC board” who is responsible for recommendations and “acting” on the matter.

In a separate statement Qoza said the department would “act on” recommendations to the ministry “within the law”. He could not elaborate on these comments.

In reference to the recent resignation of SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo, Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird said the report was “yet another devastating blow” to the public broadcaster.

Mokhobo was identified in Madonsela’s recommendations in the report for “her improper conduct in the approval” of Motsoeneng’s salary increase.

“I don’t think he (Motsoeneng) should be at his desk. These findings are significant and very substantial.”

Motsoeneng however, was only “part of the problem”, and it would be “grossly unfair” to attribute the “crisis” at the SABC soley to him, he added.

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