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Durban - The drama continued at the SABC on Thursday with the reinstatement of acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, leading to opposition calls for Communications Minister Dina Pule to be fired.
The board also contradicted Pule, its political principal, maintaining that the decision to remove Motsoeneng still stood.
Pule is reported to have told SABC radio that Motsoeneng would remain in the position because the board had not been properly constituted when it took the decision to remove him, making his removal illegal. But the board had another version of what took place at the meeting.
“The board meeting on February 25 was properly constituted and the decision to release Mr Motsoeneng from acting chief operating officer stands,” board member Lumko Mtimde said on behalf of the board’s majority.
Meanwhile, deputy chairman Thami ka Plaatjie, who resigned on Monday along with chairman Ben Ngubane, told The Mercury that he was not going back to the organisation and was waiting for President Jacob Zuma to rubber-stamp his resignation.
“I don’t want to give a comment, but all I can say is that I’m still waiting for a decision from the president,” said Ka Plaatjie.
Asked if he supported Motsoeneng’s reinstatement, Ka Plaatjie chuckled softly.
“The minister wrote a letter for him to go back. But I’m no longer there, so I can’t involve myself,” he said.
The cabinet added its voice to the ongoing drama. Spokeswoman Phumla Williams told a briefing on Thursday that the cabinet had “noted with concern” the recent developments at the SABC and other state entities like Eskom and SAA.
“The line ministers have been mandated to engage with the respective institutions and report back to the cabinet as soon as possible,” she said.
There was no detailed discussion on the matter - the cabinet had merely raised its concerns.
“On the resignations, the president is still applying his mind,” said Williams.
The matter came up in the National Assembly, where there were calls for Pule to be axed.
Cope MP Juli Kilian put forward a notice of motion to have a debate on the matter during the next sitting of the house, and called for the removal of Pule for her role in the scandals plaguing the public broadcaster.
“I hereby move on behalf of the Congress of the People… to debate the need for a cabinet reshuffle which would include the dismissal of the minister of communications,” said Kilian.
The DA’s Marian Shinn urged the SABC board to assert its authority on its decision to remove Motsoeneng.
“The board maintains that the meeting was quorate, chaired by the deputy chairperson, minuted by the company secretary, and held in accordance with the Broadcasting Act and other laws regarding corporate governance. Mr Motsoeneng has proved unsuitable in the post for which is has neither the appropriate experience, temperament nor qualifications,” said Shinn.
She called on the board to stand firm and for Pule to stop meddling in its operations.