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Durban - Opposition parties have reacted with shock to the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as SABC chief operations officer.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced the appointment following a recommendation by the SABC board on Tuesday, despite Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendation earlier this year that he be removed from his post.
He had been acting in the position for a number of years after it became vacant in 2006 when Solly Mokoetle left the public broadcaster.
On Wednesday night,
Madonsela refused to be drawn into discussing whether she believed the appointment indicated the public broadcaster’s board had undermined her office.
She said Motsoeneng’s appointment took her by surprise.
“She intends calling a meeting with the minister of communication and the SABC board as soon as possible to hear from them what the appointment signifies,” Madonsela’s spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi said.
Madonsela had not only expected the position to be filled by a “suitably qualified permanent incumbent”, but had expected the SABC board to institute a disciplinary hearing against Motsoeneng for dishonesty, relating to the misrepresentation of his qualifications, abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointment and salary increments of a staff member and for his role in the purging of senior staff members, resulting in numerous labour disputes.
Madonsela said she had no comment on Motsoeneng’s suitability for the job and him getting it, but she would wait for an explanation by Muthambi and the Board.
DA spokesman Gavin Davis said the appointment was a “dark day for democracy”.
“Mr Motsoeneng has been given a renewed mandate to continue his reign of terror at the public broadcaster.
“We can expect more surveillance and purging of SABC staff, more clampdowns on editorial independence and more ‘happy news’ that reflects positively on the governing party,” said Davis.
He said when the Public Protector concluded that Motsoeneng had lied about having matric and gave himself irregular salary increases, she recommended the appointment of a new chief operations officer within 90 days.
In February Madonsela released a report titled “When governance and ethics fail”, which found Motsoeneng’s SABC appointment irregular and that his salary had increased from R1.5 million a year to R2.4m in one year.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “He does not deserve to be chief operations officer, because he is a liar and a conman.
“He lied about his academic background and used the very same lies to sell the SABC to Multichoice.
“It is astonishing that the minister rewards such insanity,” said Ndlozi.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said
the SABC’s requirement to reply to the public protector’s report on its then-acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was unrelated to his permanent appointment.
“The public protector has nothing to do with this (permanent appointment) of Motsoeneng,” Kganyago said.
“The two are not together… I don’t know how the two are related.”
Kganyago said any attempt to draw inferences about Motsoeneng’s appointment from the report were subjective.
“You read what you want to read.”
He said Madonsela’s report stipulated only that the chief operations officer position had to be filled, not who should fill it.