Johannesburg – The day after SABC chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng lost his appeal against a high court ruling that his appointment be overturned, the public broadcaster appointed him in his current position on an acting basis.
Internal correspondence leaked to The Star says he has been appointed COO for three months – from September 19 to December 18. The decision means that Motsoeneng will be acting in the same position for the second time. He began acting in the key position in 2011, and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi confirmed his permanent appointment by the board in 2014.
The communications ministry says it has not seen the correspondence.Motsoeneng’s 2014 appointment was made was despite the adverse findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, including that he had misrepresented his qualifications and awarded himself a salary hike to R2.4 million a year from R1.5m, among other irregularities.
It has now emerged that following the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling that his appointment was irrational and that it be set aside, Motsoeneng has been appointed the acting COO. This is revealed in internal SABC correspondence that was leaked to The Star.
“Clause 13.7.1 of the Memorandum of Incorporation stipulates that the board may in writing appoint any senior employee of the corporation who it deems fit, and the minister shall approve the appointment of any such senior employee to act as COO or CFO (chief financial officer),” the letter reads.
“Since the next board meeting is scheduled for October 28, 2016, the board is requested to recommend that the honourable minister approves the appointment of Mr GH Motsoeneng as the acting COO for the period September 19 to December 18, 2016 on a round- robin basis. The appointment of the acting COO will be tabled at the next board meeting for ratification.”
This is immediately followed by the line that seals Motsoeneng’s appointment. “Resolved that: The appointment of Mr GH Motsoeneng as the acting COO for the period September 19, 2016 to December 18, 2016 be and is hereby approved.”
The letter, dated September 19, bears the name of group company secretary Theresa Geldenhuis at the bottom, but is “unsigned” as it was “submitted electronically”.
However, the communications ministry on Thursday said it had not received a letter from the SABC board asking the minister to appoint Motsoeneng as acting COO.
“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,” the department said in a statement.
“As stated before, we are confident that the SABC will give due consideration to the court ruling in the case of 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. Until such time, it would be highly in appropriate for the ministry to make public pronouncements.”
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said he was aware of the letter, but declined to comment. This came as Parliament on Thursday refused to enter the fray in the SABC board stand-off over a proposal to take Motsoeneng back.
Opposition parties have said that the board was undermining the Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling by trying to appoint Motsoeneng through the back door.
The board appeared to be divided after one member of the board, Krish Naidoo, publicly came out against attempts by his fellow board members to reinstate Motsoeneng as the acting COO.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on communications Humphrey Maxegwana refused to be drawn on the SABC board stand-off on Thursday. He said the committee would not intervene at this stage.