Tax­pay­ers in for more pain in Mot­soe­neng saga

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG DODDS

TAX­PAY­ERS will be foot­ing the bill for yet an­other ap­peal in the long-run­ning le­gal bat­tle over the ap­point­ment of SABC chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, af­ter the Western Cape High Court yes­ter­day set it aside as ir­ra­tional and un­law­ful.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago con­firmed the broad­caster would ap­peal against the judg­ment, while nei­ther Mot­soe­neng, nor the spokesman for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi, both re­spon­dents in the case, could be reached for com­ment.

Mot­soe­neng is al­ready ap­peal­ing a judg­ment of the Supreme Court of Ap­peal con­firm­ing he should be sus- pended pend­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing over his faked matric re­sults, purg­ing of SABC staff, and ir­reg­u­lar salary in­creases for him­self and oth­ers.

The SCA judg­ment fol­lowed an ap­peal against a Western Cape High Court judg­ment or­der­ing his sus­pen­sion and that dis­ci­plinary steps be taken against him, as well as an aban­doned ap­peal against an or­der for his sus­pen­sion to be ef­fected while the ap­peal was un­der way.

Muthambi and the SABC have also been par­ties in th­ese cases, with sep­a­rate le­gal coun­sel, and were or­dered yes­ter­day, with Mot­soe­neng, to pay the costs of the DA, which brought the ap­pli­ca­tion to have Muthambi’s de­ci­sion to ap­point Mot­soe­neng set aside.

The DA ar­gued that the de­ci­sion was ir­ra­tional in light of Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s find­ings against Mot­soe­neng, be­fore he was ap­pointed by the min­is­ter, in­clud­ing that he lied about hav­ing matric in his ap­pli­ca­tion for a job at the SABC, that he ir­reg­u­larly awarded him­self a salary in­crease three times in one year, and purged se­nior SABC staff who had tes­ti­fied against him in an ear­lier dis­ci­plinary process.

Madon­sela’s re­me­dial ac­tion in her re­port said Mot­soe­neng should be dis­ci­plined, but Muthambi ac­cepted the view of a law firm ap­pointed by the SABC, which cleared the then act­ing chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer (COO), and in­stead of his be­ing dis­ci­plined she ac­cepted a rec­om­men­da­tion from the SABC board last year that he should be ap­pointed per­ma­nently in the po­si­tion.

Judge Den­nis Davis said the SCA judg­ment last month, which found pub­lic pro­tec­tor re­ports were bind­ing un­less re­viewed and set aside by a court, was “clearly bind­ing on me as a judge of the High Court”.

He added that he em­braced its find­ings “with ju­rispru­den­tial en­thu­si­asm”.

It fol­lowed that Muthambi could not ar­gue that she could ig­nore the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­port “to such an ex­tent that it would still be ra­tio­nal to ap­point Mr Mot­soe­neng to a per­ma­nent po­si­tion of COO”.

To do so was “man­i­festly an act of ir­ra­tional­ity which stands to be set aside”, Judge Davis said.

HOT SEAT: Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng.

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