Cape Town - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has been accused of hiding behind the sub judice rule and refusing to account to Parliament, after declining to discuss the appointment of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Tuesday.
Muthambi was also accused of ignoring Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the public broadcaster which found that Motsoeneng’s appointment as the acting COO was irregular.
Madonsela had also found Motsoeneng’s salary increase to be irregular and had recommended that the SABC recover all monies which were spent irregularly.
Muthambi said she could not provide responses to some questions because the Motsoeneng matter was still before the courts after the DA had asked the Western Cape High Court to set the appointment aside.
During her presentation, Muthambi quoted the SABC’s response which stated that the funds were spent “correctly and all the necessary approvals were given”.
She said the SABC could not discipline Motsoeneng “since it knew at the time of employing (him) that he did not have matric and had never lied about it”.
DA MP Gavin Davis said it was clear Muthambi had “ignored” the public protector’s report because she hadn’t dealt substantively with any of the “remedial actions”.
“(They) in fact say effectively that the public protector was wrong in her findings. I understand the minister had until August 16 to finalise the remedial action, not to come here to announce that she will simply ignore the report because she disagrees with it.”
On the sub judice principle he said constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos wrote: “One of the most irritating phenomena in our political life is the manner in which politicians wrongly invoke the sub judice rule to avoid accountability because they do not want to answer difficult questions or deal with politically awkward issues. Such politicians invoke a rule that only exists in their imagination.”
He said the rule was invented to prevent people from predetermining the outcome of a case in court.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said there was a “game” being played in Parliament.
“As a chairperson sitting there you are conceding that this sub judice thing complicates issues which is just basic hogwash, nonsense, in my view. And unfortunately I think that when protest action is again unleashed, people will say we are childish, we are rowdy when they are like uninterruptedly ignoring everything about the proper running of our government,” said Ndlozi to committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi Meropa.