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Faith Muthambi must answer for Hlaudi Motsoeneng's appointment in parliament - Gavin Davis

DA MP says perception widespread that appointment of SABC COO was irregular, illegitimate and possibly unlawful

Muthambi must answer for Hlaudi appointment in Parliament

10 July 2014

I have today written to the Chairperson of the Communications Portfolio Committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, to request Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, be summoned to explain the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as SABC Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Given the gravity of the decision to appoint Mr Motsoeneng, and the many unanswered questions it raises, it is imperative that the Minister accounts to the Portfolio Committee at the first available opportunity.

In a reply to a parliamentary question received last Wednesday, Minister Muthambi said that no progress had been made in filling the COO vacancy. In the Portfolio Committee last Friday, Minister Muthambi said that she expected the appointment process for COO to be complex, but that she would nevertheless endeavour to finalise it by 16 August.

Since then the SABC Board and the Minister have acted with surprising speed to fill the COO vacancy, raising the following questions:

What process was followed to appoint Mr Motsoeneng as COO;

Was the position externally advertised and handled by an external recruitment agency;

How many applicants were there;

How many were shortlisted;

Was any consideration given to the Public Protector's findings that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric and had irregularly increased salaries when he was Acting COO;

Is Mr Motsoeneng still earning the R2.4m salary that the Public Protector found he was awarded irregularly;

Did the Board subject Mr Motsoeneng to a disciplinary hearing, as requested in section 11.3.2.1 of the Public Protector's report;

How much did the SABC pay former COO-designate Mvuzo Mbebe to settle the 7-year legal dispute that had hitherto prevented it from appointing a permanent COO;

Did Mr Motsoeneng's lawyers cite the principle of "legitimate expectation" to demand that Mr Motsoeneng be appointed permanently; and

If so, was a legal opinion sought to test the applicability of the principle to this case?

There is a widely held perception that the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng was irregular, illegitimate and possibly unlawful. This perception will remain until Minister Muthambi fully answers the numerous questions surrounding his appointment.

UPDATE:

Hlaudi appointment: Muthambi must release law firm report for public scrutiny

10 July 2014

Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, claimed today that SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, had been cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent law firm. Her belief that a legal report from a private law firm can trump a report of the Public Protector is bizarre and unprecedented. 

If Minister Muthambi wants to overturn the Public Protector's report, she needs to apply to do so in a court of law. A legal opinion may be a basis to launch such an application, but it cannot - in and of itself - be used to defy the recommendations of the Public Protector.

At tomorrow's meeting of the Communications Portfolio Committee, I will request the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications invoke Rule 138 in order to summon Minister Muthambi to appear before it.

Minister Muthambi must appear before the Committee to answer a range of unanswered questions surrounding the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng. In particular, she must produce the report of the private law firm. If she is so confident that it clears Mr Motsoeneng's name, she should have no problem with releasing it for public scrutiny.

Statements issued by Gavin Davis, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, July 10 2014

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