SOS Welcomes Supreme Court of Appeal Ruling on Motsoeneng’s Misconduct
SOS welcomes the judgment handed down by the SCA, this morning, confirming Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s suspension and directing the SABC to institute disciplinary procedures against him for misconduct as found by the Public Protector in her 2014 report When Governance and Ethics Fail. Some of the charges against Motsoeneng that the Public Protector found to be substantiated include (but are not limited to):
- fraudulently misrepresenting his qualifications by claiming he had completed matric;
- abusing his power and position to unduly benefit himself;
- irregularly increasing his salary from R1.5m to R2.4m three times in one year (this excludes his latest salary bump to R3.7m in a year that the SABC made a near R400m loss);
- irregularly purging senior staff members, which resulted in a substantial loss to the SABC in unnecessary legal fees and settlement packages;
- unilaterally and irregularly increasing the salaries of various staff members, resulting in a salary bill escalation of R29m.
Vindicated in our firm and consistent position as we might be by this excellent judgment for which the Court must be congratulated in its strident defense of our constitutional democracy, the Coalition has little to celebrate. The SABC, its amazing workers, and the 7million households in South Africa that rely almost exclusively on it for their information, education and entertainment needs remain the losers:
- Instead of doing the right thing, and instituting the recommendations set out by the Public Protector, the Board and Minister of Communications made the unfathomable choice of endorsing the egregious misconduct happening right under their watch in this national asset.
- Instead of instituting disciplinary procedures recommended by the Public Protector, they chose to make a mockery of the judicial process by defending the indefensible, made the SABC and us, the public to whom it belongs, foot the bill for it, and then weakly attempted to deny it by claiming the payment was made out of a legal insurance policy towards which the SABC pays premiums.
- They even went so far as insulting the office of the Public protector, and paid lawyers to run a parallel extrajudicial inquiry that cleared Motsoeneng of all wrong doing in a failed bid to discredit her report.
What more that is a rotten cancer eating away at the SABC from the inside out must they be presiding over and defending?
There is no doubt that Motsoeneng, the SABC Board and the Minister will, again and at our continued expense, continue to abuse our already overloaded and under-resourced court system, and appeal this matter at the Constitutional Court. We are also under no illusions that the SABC Board and Minister will commit themselves to instituting the Public Protector’s recommendations in good faith, given the utmost contempt they have expressed towards her and her office. To this end, all of us must remain ever vigilant, and ready to defend our national treasure – our SABC – and commit ourselves to ensuring that what is yielded from the process is not mediocre base-minimum compliance with the law that protects and rewards wrongdoing, but a shining example of public accountability in action.
If we are serious about seeing an independent and transformed media landscape in South Africa, we must start by cleaning house at the SABC, and deliver to our people an SABC that delivers on its mandate, an SABC that runs a clean shop, an SABC that takes a zero tolerance stance on fraudulent and egregious misconduct – in short, an SABC that works.
The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SECTION27 and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.
For more information contact:
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
076 084 8077
A pdf version of this press statement can be found here.