Thursday, June 4, 2015

SABC's Hlaudi Motsoeneng prepared to go all the way to South Africa's Constitutional Court to set aside his court ordered suspension.

The SABC's embattled and highly controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng is set and prepared to take the case against his High Court ordered suspension all the way to South Africa's Constitutional Court.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) political party on the one side, and the SABC with Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi on the other, all agreed on Wednesday to send the Western Cape High Court case straight to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in September.

Should the Supreme Court of Appeal however find against Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the public broadcaster's famously matricless boss is already prepared to take the case even further to the country's Constitutional Court.

Zola Majavu, Hlaudi Motsoeneng's lawyer, told ANN7 (DStv 405) that "if the Supreme Court of Appeal decision does not go his way, we'll then trot all the way to the Constitutional Court".

"And if the Constitutional Court then decides against him, that is the end of the matter, we all have to lick our wounds and accept the decision of the Constitutional Court. But this is not over, not by a long shot".

On Wednesday all the parties decided to postpone the case against Hlaudi Motsoeneng and to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The effect is that the case will actually be heard by the SCA much sooner than what would have been the case - likely in August or September - where it would usually have taken 12 to 18 months to reach that court.

More than just Hlaudi Motsoeneng's court ordered suspension hinges on the case.

It actually speaks to the powers of the Public Protector and the enforcement or not of the findings of the Public Protector's reports which go beyond the SABC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng and will also have broad and significant impact on president Jacob Zuma and the Nkandlagate scandal over which the Public Protector also issued a report in February 2014.

When the Supreme Court of Appeal decide on whether Hlaudi Motsoeneng should be suspended at the SABC in accordance with the Public Protector's report and recommendation made in March 2014, the SCA will actually pronounce whether the Public Protector's findings are binding on organs of the state.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, in a scathing report on the "dishonest" Hlaudi Motsoeneng last year said that he should be suspended immediately and a disciplinary process started after finding that "Hlaudi Motsoeneng should never have been appointed at the SABC".

In a recorded interview with her Hlaudi Motsoeneng admitted that he lied about his qualifications and having matric and that he made up symbols for a matric certificate he knew he couldn't produce.

The report entitled "When governance and ethics fail" found "abuse of power and improper conduct" and implicated Hlaudi Motsoeneng in maladministration. The report found that he irregularly and rapidly increased the salaries of various SABC staff members which ballooned the SABC's salary bill. His own salary also increased three times in one year with 63% to R2.4 million at the beleaguered public broadcaster.

According to the Public Protector's report further found that Hlaudi Motsoeneng was directly involved in purging all the SABC staff who testified against him in an earlier disciplinary hearing, and that the "dysfunctional" SABC board is part of "pathological corporate governance deficiencies at the SABC".

"Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been allowed by successive SABC boards to operate above the law," the Public Protector's report found.

When the SABC failed to suspend Hlaudi Motsoeneng in line with the Public Protector's recommendation and report and in fact permanently appointed him in the position of COO at the SABC, the DA went to court.

Judge Ashton Schippers in the Western Cape High Court ruled that Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended and that the SABC institute disciplinary charges against him in line with the Public Protector's report, but Hlaudi Motsoeneng appealed the ruling.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng's appeal was unsuccessful, but Judge Ashton Schippers granted Hlaudi Motsoeneng leave to appeal to the SCA - which is where the case is indeed now heading next - and with Hlaudi Motsoeneng's lawyer indicating that should that be unsuccessful, the SABC's COO is ready to go to the Constitutional Court.