The Star Early Edition

Hlaudi’s R3.78m jackpot

Public Protector urged to probe SABC head’s increase

- – Additional reporting by Marianne Merten SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

CONTROVERS­IAL SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng could face another probe by the Public Protector for inflating his salary from R2.2 million to close to R4m in just a year.

The salary hike came amid an ongoing cash crisis at the public broadcaste­r.

According to its annual report presented in Parliament yesterday, the SABC recorded losses of R401m – attributed to greater operating expenses, including employee costs and film and sports rights.

The SABC also revealed that it continued to face serious challenges due to the tough economic climate.

The release of the SABC’s annual report coincided with that of the South African Qualificat­ions Authority, which oversees the developmen­t of the National Qualificat­ions Framework.

Motsoeneng’s appointmen­t at the SABC is at the heart of a court case that centres on his lack of qualificat­ions.

It emerged in the Supreme Court of Appeal last week that there was no proof of his qualificat­ion. He has only Standard 9 (Grade 11).

According to the annual report, Motsoeneng’s salary increased to R3 784 000 in the 2014/15 financial year – up from R2 872 000. The pay hike of almost R1m plus a bonus, along with other benefits amounting to R369 000, pushed his annual salary package to R3.7m, effectivel­y meaning a 31 percent increase.

This has prompted the DA in Parliament to ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigat­e Motsoeneng’s pay hike.

It will be the second time the chief operating officer will be probed by Madonsela. She is squaring up with Motsoeneng in court over the former’s powers.

In a damning report last year, titled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, Madonsela recommende­d that he be discipline­d for lying about having a matric qualificat­ion and inflating his salary.

His pay is higher than that of President Jacob Zuma.

In comparison, Zuma’s annual salary is R2 753 889 – up by a belowinfla­tion increase from the previous year – following an increase of R130 000 by Parliament in June.

Opposition parties reacted angrily to Motsoeneng’s latest salary hike.

The DA led the charge, with the party’s MP Gavin Davis calling for action against him.

He said the DA was stunned that Motsoeneng had given himself another increase.

“It should be remembered that Motsoeneng was earning just R334 000 as an SABC radio producer in 2010. Five years later and his salary has increased more than tenfold. It must be nice to have friends in high places!” said Davis.

“There can be no justificat­ion for Motsoeneng’s salary increase by 31 percent in one year.”

Davis added that the SABC boss was earning far more than hard-working nurses, teachers, police officers and other public sector workers.

He said his party wanted the Public Protector to investigat­e Motsoeneng’s latest increase that came at the expense of other workers in the public sector.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the increase was indefensib­le, given the troubled state of the public broadcaste­r and while police officials and nurses had to settle for 7 percent salary increases.

“With the possibilit­y that he could be removed from his position, this was possibly an attempt of fast self-enrichment,” Mulder said, adding that the SABC board would have to explain who had approved it.

Following arguments in the Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday, the three judges hearing the Motsoeneng case against Madonsela postponed the ruling.

The judgment will determine what should happen to Motsoeneng. The DA and other opposition parties want him to be suspended immediatel­y, pending an investigat­ion into his qualificat­ions and salary increase as recommende­d by the Public Protector.

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