190412 SABC Chairman Dr Ben Ngubane briefing the media on the case regarding SABC COO.This was held at their head offices in Johannesburg Aucklandpark.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 3

Johannesburg - In her report, the public protector was not kind to the SABC board. Thuli Madonsela said she “found it rather discouraging that the SABC board appears to have blindly sprung to Mr Motsoeneng’s defence on matters that precede it...”

According to Madonsela, the board submission appeared to be “more defensive on Motsoeneng’s behalf than himself”. She expanded: “This is the case on the alleged fraudulent misrepresentation of his qualifications. The submission appeared to be unconcerned over the allegation that Motsoeneng committed an act of gross fraudulent misrepresentation of facts by declaring himself to be in possession of a matriculation certificate obtained at Metsimantsho High School in QwaQwa.

“Motsoeneng admitted, during his recorded interview, he had falsified his matric qualifications and blamed a Mrs Swanepoel, whom he said gave him the application form to fill in anything to get the job.

“On the completed application form availed by one of the complainants, Mr Motsoeneng indicated that he passed Standard 10 (matric’) in 1991 at the age of 23 years and indicated five symbols he had purported to have obtained in this regard.

According to Madonsela, the issue was not whether or not the SABC board knew Motsoeneng did not have a matric certificate on appointment to various posts at the SABC. The issue was whether or not he had fraudulently misrepresented his qualifications to get a job he was not entitled to.

“An ancillary issue was whether it could be reasonably concluded that he had something to do with the disappearance of his human resources file and the changed qualification requirements for the chief operating executive (COO) post when it was advertised while he held the post in an acting capacity.”

Madonsela said Motsoeneng conceded during his interview that there were systemic corporate governance lapses in the SABC, although he took no responsibility, blaming everything on the board, fellow executives and the Department of Communications.

Madonsela indicated that her findings were symptomatic of pathological corporate governance deficiencies at the SABC. By his own admission, Motsoeneng caused the board to make unlawful decisions, she said.

“The board was dysfunctional and on its watch allowed Dr Ben Ngubane to effectively perform the functions of an executive chairperson by authorising numerous salary increments for Motsoeneng.

“Motsoeneng has been allowed by successive boards to operate above the law, undermining the group chief executive among others, and causing the staff... to engage in unlawful conduct.”

The board was instructed to take urgent steps to fill the long vacant position of the COO with a suitably qualified permanent incumbent within 90 days and to establish why group chief executives at the SABC leave prematurely. But Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and the SABC board went against her recommendation and appointed Motsoeneng as full-time COO. Instead of defining the role of the COO in relation to the chief executive to ensure overlaps in authority were eliminated, the board and Motsoeneng engineered the suspension of CEO Frans Matlala. He was reported to have been offered a whopping R18 million settlement.

This, after the unceremonious departure of yet another (acting) chief executive, Jimi Matthews.

The SABC board was also instructed by the public protector to ensure all monies irregularly spent through unlawful actions were recovered and to take disciplinary action against Motsoeneng for his dishonesty in the misrepresentation of his qualifications, abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments. That also was never done.

It was also directed to ensure any wasteful expenditure incurred as a result of irregular salary increments to Motsoeneng and others was recovered. That was never done. The broadcaster was told to issue a public apology to all former employees who suffered prejudice due to SABC management and the board’s failure to handle its affairs in accordance with the law and corporate governance policies. This too was ignored.

Sunday Independent