Minister may be forced to pay up
Former SABC executive and sports administrator Mvuzo Mbebe will institute legal action against Communications Minister Faith Muthambi this week to enforce a financial settlement agreement that gave the green light for the controversial appointment of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Mbebe, who was the chosen candidate for the position in 2007 but was not appointed, obtained an interdict against the SABC, blocking the broadcaster from filling the position until the dispute was settled.
Muthambi appointed Motsoeneng last month, saying the seven-year dispute with Mbebe had been resolved.
Motsoeneng’s appointment, which caught the ANC by surprise, is now being challenged in court and is the subject of a new investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who had earlier made damning findings against Motsoeneng.
Mbebe, who is represented by Joburg law firm Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi Attorneys (MNS), said on Friday the agreement reached between their client and the SABC had still not been enforced by the minister.
He would not disclose the amount involved. Mbebe, who headed up the CAF local organising committee, annnounced last year that he is battling colon cancer.
After Motsoeneng was appointed, Mbebe’s lawyers sent a letter to Muthambi giving her 30 days to enforce the settlement or face legal action. The deadline passed on Friday.
“To date, we have not heard from the minister, so we will file an application in the North Gauteng High Court to compel her to settle the payment,” said MNS’ Mncedisi Ndlovu.
After a protracted battle, a settlement was negotiated with the SABC, which culminated in a draft agreement being drawn up a year ago.
This was accepted by Mbebe. Then in February, Muthambi’s predecessor Yunus Carrim made an offer and this too was accepted by Mbebe, according to Ndlovu.
Carrim said at the time of the agreement in February that the post, which Motsoeneng had held in an acting capacity, would be advertised.
But last month, Muthambi confirmed the appointment of Motsoeneng without advertising the position.
Muthambi’s decision is now being legally challenged by the DA. The application, which has in turn been challenged by the SABC and Muthambi, will be heard in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Madonsela has launched a new investigation into Motsoeneng’s appointment, and has subpoenaed the minister.
In a damning report earlier this year, Madonsela found that Motsoeneng had fraudulently misrepresented his qualifications, and had irregularly granted salary increases to himself and certain staff members.
When confirming Motsoeneng’s appointment, Muthambi said an independent legal firm had cleared him of any wrongdoing.
In an SMS reply to a media query, she said: “I do not wish to engage with Mr Mbebe or his lawyers through the media. They are free to contact my office in this regard.”
We will file an application to compel her [Muthambi] to settle the payment