Hlaudi Motsoeneng. File picture: Paballo Thekiso

 

Johannesburg - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Tuesday announced that its embattled former chief operations officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng, would be reverting back to his old position as group executive of corporate affairs.

This comes after Motsoeneng’s role at the public broadcaster was mired in doubt following the Supreme Court Appeal’s (SCA) decision to deny him leave to appeal a high court ruling invalidating his permanent appointment to that post two years ago.

During a media briefing, SABC chairperson Mbulaheni Maghuve said Motsoeneng would be occupying his former position as GE of Corporate Affairs, but was free to apply for the COO position once it was advertised.

“Today is the day that I want to set the record straight. That record is that there is a perception being created by an opposition party and the media that the SABC doesn’t respect our legal institution,” Maghuve said.

“We respect our legal institutions, amongst them the Public Protector’s office and our courts. We adhered to the Public Protector’s recommendations to discipline our COO, but Mr Motsoeneng was cleared, only the processes were not followed.”

Maghuve said even Judge Dennis Davis’ judgement in the Western Cape High Court, which initially ruled that Motsoeneng’s appointment as SABC’s COO was “unlawful and irrational”, did not affect his reappointment to the COO position.

“If requirements are met and due processes are followed, there is nothing that stops Mr Motsoeneng from applying if he so wishes. He has done well for this organisation. He has raised funds for us, and local content has been preferred over others, benefiting our communities,” Maghuve said.

Maghuve urged opposition parties not to interfere with the SABC, “because they are the ones that are destabilising this organisation”.

Following the SCA’s decision, the SABC board reportedly wrote to Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, requesting that she re-appoint Motsoeneng.

However, the African National Congress (ANC) has urged the minister to respect court rulings, suggesting she would not have political support for such a move.

In the meanwhile, the Sunday press reported that Motsoeneng was paid R11.4 million in commissions or bonuses for facilitating a R500 million deal with MultiChoice to create SABC channels on DStv. In response, the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) on Monday called for his bank accounts to be frozen while the claims are investigated.

Democratic Alliance communications spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme on Tuesday said the time had come for Parliament to heed the DA’s call for a parliamentary inquiry into the crisis at the SABC.

It is expected that the broadcaster would announce a R500 million loss amid a poor fiscal performance in the last financial year when it tables its 2015/16 annual report on Thursday.

African News Agency