14 July 2014

South Africa: Minister to Explain Motsoeneng to Parliament

Johannesburg — Communications Minister Faith Muthambi is to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain her ratification of Hlaudi Motsoeneng's appointment as SABC COO, the Sunday Independent reported.

Communications committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa confirmed the minister would appear before the committee, apparently this week.

In an opinion piece in the same newspaper, Muthambi suggested the SABC board's response to a public protector report about Motsoeneng would enable her and the public to determine if the board acted correctly in recommending Motsoeneng for the job.

The SABC board has until August 17 to respond to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report in which she found that while Motsoeneng was the SABC's acting chief operations officer (COO), his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4m in one year. He purged senior staff, and misrepresented his qualifications, that he passed matric, to the SABC, according to the report.

When the report was released in February, Madonsela recommended the SABC appoint a new COO within 90 days.

Muthambi announced in Pretoria on Tuesday that Motsoeneng, who had until then been acting COO, had been permanently appointed to the post.

On Sunday, Muthambi said she was waiting for the board's response to Madonsela's investigation to make up her mind about the board's decision.

"I await a detailed report from the board about how (it) will deal with matters raised by the public protector (with) regards to governance," Muthambi wrote in her opinion piece.

"When that process has gone full circle we will all be able to make up our own minds about whether the board has exercised its fiduciary responsibilities."

Muthambi said a chief executive officer at the SABC needed to be appointed within three months.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Muthambi said there was nothing irregular about Motsoeneng's appointment.

"I believe the board has exercised due diligence, therefore I'm saying my decision was rational," Muthambi said.

Muthambi said an independent law firm's legal opinion to the board "cleared Mr Motsoeneng of wrongdoing".

"Therefore there was nothing before me that suggested that I should not confirm the appointment," Muthambi said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the law firm, Mchunu Attorneys, told the Sunday Times that its brief had not been to give counsel on Motsoeneng's appointment, but only on the public protector's report.

"We have not advised the SABC on the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as its COO," the firm's Titus Mchunu told the newspaper.

On Sunday, Motsoeneng said in an interview with City Press newspaper he was neutral about Madonsela's report.

"I don't have any feelings about [Madonsela's investigations]."

On Friday, Madonsela's office announced it would conduct a new probe into Motsoeneng's appointment after receiving various complaints.

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