Opposition eye charges against SABC COOComment on this story
Johannesburg - A group of opposition parties is to lay criminal charges against SABC acting chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
“He clearly acted fraudulently in misrepresenting his qualifications to the SABC when applying for employment, including stating that he has passed matric,” the group said on Wednesday.
It calls itself the Collective for Democracy and comprises the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the Freedom Front Plus, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Congress of the People, and the United Christian Democratic Party.
“We also call on the (communications) minister or the board to suspend Mr Motsoeneng pending disciplinary action and to fill the long vacant position of chief operations officer with a suitably qualified person urgently.”
The group claimed the SABC's objectivity was in serious doubt following the public protector's report on Motsoeneng. This came at a time when the national broadcaster had to relay information to voters in a non-partisan way in the run-up to the May 7 elections.
“It will only be through the speedy implementation of... remedial steps that a semblance of good governance and integrity at the SABC will be restored,” it said.
On Monday, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela criticised Motsoeneng and the SABC board over his irregular appointment and salary progression at the public broadcaster.
Madonsela found former communications minister Dina Pule interfered unduly in the SABC's affairs during her tenure.
“Her conduct amounts to abuse of power,” Madonsela said.
She urged Communications Minister Yunus Carrim to take urgent steps to fill the “long outstanding vacant post of COO” with a suitably qualified permanent incumbent within 90 days.
She called on Carrim to establish why group chief executive officers at the SABC could not function, and left prematurely, causing financial and operational strains.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the broadcaster would consider Madonsela's findings.
Madonsela found Motsoeneng irregularly and rapidly increased the salaries of various staff members, resulting in the state broadcaster footing an unprecedented salary bill escalation of R29 million.
He “unilaterally” increased the salaries of various staff members and certain freelancers without following parts of the SABC personnel regulations, Madonsela said in the report.
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.
Motsoeneng was also investigated for fraudulently misrepresenting his qualifications to the SABC, including claiming he had passed matric when he applied for employment.
Madonsela said allegations that Motsoeneng committed fraud by stating in his application form that he had completed matric at Metsimantsho High School in QwaQwa were substantiated. She said it was worrying that Motsoeneng's file had disappeared at the SABC while he denied falsifying his qualifications.
In her report Madonsela recommends that the SABC board institute corrective action.