Hlaudi’s blue Monday
Motsoeneng fights back as SABC ends his tumultuous era
FIRED SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng has hinted at appealing his dismissal, suggesting that his axing was predetermined. He said he was not formally notified of the termination of his contract, and that he would decide on what steps to take once he had seen the letter explaining the decision.
“I don’t have that ruling. I don’t want to comment from the air. I want to read it (first). I will deal with the issue after getting the ruling,” he told The Star yesterday, moments after SABC interim board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama announced his sacking at a media briefing.
Kweyama said the disciplinary hearing, which concluded on Friday and was headed by advocate Nazeer Cassim, had found Motsoeneng guilty of misconduct and bringing the SABC into disrepute.
Motsoeneng, the former chief operating officer, was charged after he hosted an unauthorised media briefing in April at which he criticised the SABC interim board chairperson Krish Naidoo and the parliamentary ad hoc committee.
He also used the briefing to defend his controversial 90% local music content on radio, which has led to the public broadcaster losing millions of rand in advertising revenue. Kweyama said the action against Motsoeneng was to discourage other employees from defying the public broadcaster.
“You act so that when someone tries it in the future, they know that the end of it is dismissal.
“There will be no SABC staff going out and calling media briefings. The policy is clear that the chairperson is the spokesperson of the SABC and can delegate the acting chief executive officer.”
The Star also contacted Motsoeneng’s legal counsel, advocate Zola Majavu, who said: “There’s nothing (to comment on). I haven’t received any judgment and letter of dismissal.”
He questioned why news of Motsoeneng’s dismissal came to light even before the official pronouncement by the SABC. “Everyone has been tweeting about it. I really don’t know. Even when the disciplinary hearing started, they said they want to dismiss him summarily.”
He added: “If you can go to any lawyer, if a person has been found guilty, he has the right to present aggravation in sentencing.”
In addition to appealing the ruling, The Star has reliably learnt that Motsoeneng was considering approaching the CCMA and/or the Labour Court, among other options.
Labour law expert Michael Bagraim said although it was “rude”of the SABC to announce Motsoeneng’s dismissal without telling him first, the decision was not unlawful.
“Even though resignation has to be done in writing, dismissal doesn’t have to be in writing. They can tell him orally,” Bagraim said.
“He (Motsoeneng) can challenge the dismissal but not because he wasn’t told in writing, but because the merits aren’t strong enough or they didn’t follow proper procedure.
“I believe it is over for him. He can still go back to the CCMA or possibly the Labour Court, but he has to have a good reason. He has to show a procedural error or that he has done nothing wrong. From my point of view, he will be wasting his time and money.”
With Motsoeneng given the boot yesterday, some of his controversial policies, in particular his 90% for radio and 80% for TV, will also follow him out of the broadcaster’s Auckland Park offices.
Kweyama stopped short of saying the policy had been disastrous.
“The 90-10 (policy) was a bit drastic, and we are at the point of rethinking it. It has been a source of revenue loss, if activated across all platforms.
“There are certain channels that are quite high and have achieved 80%, so we can’t say to those channels regress. If they are making a profit we will leave it like that. We have a comprehensive policy that we are looking into.”
Kweyama confirmed that Motsoeneng’s editorial policy not to allow violent images to be broadcast during news bulletins had been rescinded.
“In terms of the controversial ban on violent images we were called to order by Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of SA).
“We have rescinded that decision and journalists are free to go and report on what they see fit to report on as professionals in the media,” Kweyama said, adding that the editorial policy would be improved in the next few months.
Meanwhile, the DA has called on the board to institute more disciplinary action against Motsoeneng for misrepresenting his qualifications – including a nonexistent matric certificate – as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her “When Governance and Ethics Fail” report.
HADN’T SEEN THE RULING: Hlaudi Motsoeneng contemplates his next move.
NOT MINCING WORDS: SABC interim board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama addressed the media in Auckland Park yesterday.