Friday, October 24, 2014

BREAKING. Court orders SABC to immediately suspend its controversial matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that the SABC must immediately suspend its controversial and famously matricless chief oeprating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Judge Ashton Schippers said that "organs of state cannot ignore the Public Protector's remedial action".

The court ordered the SABC to start disciplinary proceedings againt Hlaudi Motsoeneng within 14 days and that the disciplinary hearing has to happen within 60 days. The disciplinary process will have to be steered by an independent person.

Judge Ashton Schippers ruled that the SABC will have to deliver an affidavit to the court should the South African public broadcaster fail to complete the disciplinary process against Hlaudi Motsoeneng within 60 days.

"Good administration of the SABC and openness and accountability, demand his suspension," Judge Schippers ruled, saying that the allegations against Hlaudi Motsoeneng is serious.

Judge Ashton Schippers ordered the SABC, SABC chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala - currently embroiled in her own scandal - and the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, to pay the legal costs of the court application.

Judge Ashton Schippers said the Public Protector "strengthens democracy by providing both the individual and the wider society with the assurance that the various institutions of state can be called to account, should they fail to maintain expected standards".

In February the Public Protector's office released a scathing report, saying that Hlaudi Motsoeneng "should never have been appointed at the SABC", and implicating him in maladministration, governance and ethics breaches, that he was directly involved with getting everyone fired who testified during his disciplinary hearing, was involved in salary increases for himself and others which ballooned the SABC's salary bill by millions of rands.

The Public Protector also found that Hlaudi Motsoeneng lied about having a matric and made up symbols for a fake matric certificate he knew he couldn't produce - something Hlaudi Motsoeneng admitted to the Public Protector in a recorded interview.

Instead of suspending Hlaudi Motsoeneng and acting on the report, the SABC permanently appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng in the position of COO in which he had been acting in.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party then launched a high court bid to have Hlaudi Motsoeneng's permanent SABC appointment set aside.

The DA's shadow minister of communications, Gavin Davis, in a statement says the judgment to suspend Hlaudi Motsoeneng is "a resounding victory for every person who values our constitutional democracy and independent public broadcasting".

"The suspension of Hlaudi Motsoeneng is an opportunity to start getting the SABC back on track. We have argued all along that the Public Protector's damning findings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng could not be ignored."

"Hlaudi Motsoeneng is bad news for the SABC and bad news for South Africa."

"He is a key figure in the ongoing 'Zumafication' of the public broadcaster and has been protected and promoted despite several findings against him. We hope that the SABC will see this as an opportunity to finally hold Hlaudi Motsoeneng accountable for his actions," said Gavin Davis.

The SABC chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala who had so far failed to produce proof of her tertiary qualifications she claims to have is also involved in a legal battle to prevent parliament from suspending her.

Instead of providing proof or answering questions before parliament's portfolio committee on communications after having been granted multiple extensions, Ellen Zandile Tshabalala this week decided to get an urgent court interdict to prevent the parliamentary inquiry from proceeding.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago tells TV with Thinus that the SABC board will study the judgment first before making any comment.