SABC: Court sets aside Motsoeneng appointment
27 November 2015
The DA is pleased with the Western Cape High Court’s judgment setting aside the appointment of SABC Chief Operating Officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng. The Court found that the appointment was irrational and unlawful and thus set it aside ab initio.
This comes after Judge Dennis Davis of the Western Cape High Court considered the DA’s review application seeking to have the very appointment of Mr Motsoeneng by the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, set aside on the grounds that it was irrational and therefore unlawful from the outset.
This is the second part in a two part application. The first part of the application was decided by the Schippers J in the Western Cape High Court and the orders confirmed in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). It was found that the SABC was legally obliged to suspend Mr Motsoeneng pending disciplinary proceedings to be brought against him. The second part concerns Motsoeneng’s original appointment.
The DA has been successful in both parts of the application. This is an indictment of Minister Muthambi who shown persistent disregard for the Rule of Law and has managed the SABC as her personal fiefdom, subject only to her patron President Jacob Zuma.
The Court described the information before the Minister at the time of the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as “muddled and unclear” and that it put her “in no position to exercise a rational decision to elevate Mr Motsoeneng, whose tenure as acting COO had already been placed in sever doubt”, particularly in view of the very clear and damning findings of the Public Protector.
Judge Davis also found that the Minister had not properly applied her mind to the appointment and, though it was possible she had read the various reports, she would have done it “without careful and deliberate examination”, and having “ignored a binding set of findings which required immediate remedial attention”. As a result of the above, it was impossible for the Minister to have rationally concluded that the appointment should be made.
Unsurprisingly and in its vexatious tendencies the SABC will no doubt continue to waste more taxpayers money by taking the judgment on appeal to SCA.
This comes after the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela’s report released on 17 February 2014 found that Mr Motsoeneng:
· Lied about his qualifications when applying for the COO position
· Acted in bad faith and abused his power by increasing his salary three times in the space of one year; from R1.5 million to R2.4 million
· Was responsible for the “purging” of senior staff that cost the SABC “millions of Rand due to procedural and substantive injustices confirmed in findings of the CCMA and the courts.”
· Irregularly increased the salaries of various staff members, increasing the SABC’s salary bill by R29 million.
Knowing all this, Minister Muthambi still went ahead and permanently appointed a man who was clearly not suitable for the job.
The judgment is a resounding victory for every person who values our constitutional democracy and independent public broadcasting. The setting aside of the appointment and suspension of Mr. Motsoeneng is an opportunity to start getting the SABC back on track.
Statement by James Selfe, Chairperson of the DA's Federal Executive.