There is no basis to suspend controversial SABC acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC board chairwoman Zandile Tshabalala told MPs on Friday night.
“We don’t have a basis for suspension because… in our case he performs,” Tshabalala said, briefing a joint sitting of parliament’s communications, and telecommunications and postal services committees.
“He has even gone to a role which isn’t his role of raising funding for the SABC,” Tshabalala said.
In a report released in February, titled “When governance and ethics fail”, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Motsoeneng’s appointment at the public broadcaster and his salary progression were irregular.
Motsoeneng was also investigated for fraudulently misrepresenting his qualifications to the SABC, including claiming that he had passed matric when he applied for employment.
Madonsela concluded that Motsoeneng irregularly and rapidly increased the salaries of various staff members, resulting in the state broadcaster footing a salary bill escalation of R29 million.
She recommended that the SABC board institute corrective action against the “dishonest” Motsoeneng.
Madonsela urged then Communications Minister Yunus Carrim to take urgent steps to fill the COO post within 90 days. The 90-day deadline has since lapsed.
The SABC has until August 16 to submit its response to Madonsela’s office.
“We deem ourselves to be law-abiding citizens and for that reason if the public protector produces any suspicious information about any individual or business, it doesn’t necessary mean it’s bible,” Tshabalala said, explaining her interpretation of the findings to MPs.
“The public protector is saying look at your house. There are these allegations. What are you saying about it?”
Tshabalala called on MPs, some of whom challenged the decision to keep Motsoeneng on as acting COO, to act with “maturity” and “consistency” when dealing with issues raised by the public protector.
“We can’t cast judgment before there is a response from the SABC on all the allegations levelled against the SABC,” she said.
Tshabalala told MPs she was confident they would meet the August 16 deadline.
Carrim’s successor, Faith Muthambi, said urgent attention was being paid to matters raised by the public protector.
“I have instructed the SABC to fully respond to the issues raised by the public protector. They wiil be submitting a report to me on the 20th of July so that I can satisfy myself that there is full compliance with the public protector’s report,” Muthambi said.
Muthambi met the board on Tuesday and insisted remedial action proposed in Madonsela’s report must be taken.
“They [SABC board] informed me they obtained legal advice on the implementation of the recommendations of the public protector’s report.
“They also told me the human resource issues raised by the public protector are being fully addressed… by the board.”
Muthambi and Tshabalala were responding to demands by opposition party MPs that Motsoeneng be replaced.
“Those were damning findings by the public protector. A person admitted to lying about his qualifications,” charged Economic Freedom Fighters MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“When is Mr Hlaudi being fired. I don’t even think he must be here.”
Motsoeneng chuckled in his bench as Ndlozi and other opposition MPs called for his head.