The SABC head of corporate affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng File picture: Dumisani Dube

Parliament - Hlaudi Motsoeneng would defend a R1 millon lawsuit brought by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, his lawyer Zola Majavu said on Thursday.

Mthembu slapped the SABC head of corporate affairs with a lawsuit on Thursday following Motsoeneng’s comments last month that he had tried to “capture” him and that his views on the broadcaster were fuelled by vested interests.

The verbal spat between the two began five weeks ago when Mthembu called for an inquiry into the SABC board, arguing it wasn’t fit to hold office and should be dissolved.

He said the ANC caucus in Parliament backed the establishment of the inquiry.

Motsoeneng was left fuming and accused Mthembu of having ulterior motives. He said he had met Mthembu at a hotel where the ANC chief whip attempted to “capture” him.

Mthembu said the SABC executive was making unsubstantiated claims against him. He said Motsoeneng had attacked his character with his accusations on a TV programme last month, and he wouldn’t allow Motsoeneng to get away with the “baseless” accusations.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has slapped the SABC head of corporate affairs with a R1m lawsuit. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

If the allegations weren’t cleared, they would create the wrong perception in some people’s minds.

He said he wanted to challenge the accusations in an open court.

“To protect his name and the integrity of the ANC in Parliament, in relation to its position on the SABC, the chief whip is seeking relief through the court,” said ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Mthembu was suing for R1m for defamation of character and wanted a public apology and for Motsoeneng to pay all legal costs.

The ANC in Parliament has been pushing for an inquiry into the SABC board after it reinstated Motsoeneng following a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that his appointment as chief operating officer was illegal.

President Jacob Zuma, the cabinet and the ANC national executive committee also called for the SABC to respect the court’s decision.

This week the ad hoc committee on the SABC said it would begin the inquiry on November 29.

It has listed former public protector Thuli Madonsela and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi among its witnesses.

Ad hoc committee chairperson Vincent Smith said they wanted to finish the process as quickly as possible.

Despite two more SABC board members resigning this week, leaving the SABC with only one non-executive director, the committee said the inquiry would go ahead.

Chairperson Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe is the only non-executive director left after 11 either resigned or were removed.

Political Bureau