The Democratic Alliance's action to have the SABC's COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng dismissed from his position begins in court today. (video)
On 8 July Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced that she had appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng the permanent COO of the SABC.
On 17 July, the Democratic Alliance filed urgent court papers calling for the dismissal of Motsoeneng - the reason for today's hearing - and on the same day the South African Communist Party expressed concerns with Motsoeneng's appointment.
On 24 July, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced she had filed opposing papers to the DA's application and on 9 August the SABC also filed papers supporting his appointment.
"By his own admission, Mr Motsoeneng stated in his application form that he had passed Matric, filled in made-up symbols in the same application form, and promised to supply a Matric certificate to confirm his qualifications when he knew he did not have the promised certificate, (this) was admitted by him during an interview," said Madonsela.
"Mr Motsoeneng would have never been appointed in 1995 had he not lied about his qualification and ... he repeated that lie in 2003 when he applied for the post of executive producer (of) current affairs to which he accordingly should have never been appointed."
Madonsela gave the SABC and the then Communications Minister, Yunus Carrim a 90-day deadline to fill the COO post with a 'suitably qualified' person - i.e. not Motsoeneng. The 17 May deadline came and went.
Yunus Carrim was subsequently replaced by Faith Muthambi and the decision was taken by the SABC board, backed by Muthambi, to appoint Motsoeneng, in spite of Madonsela's ruling.
The latter expressed surprise and asked Muthambi to meet her - a request that the Communications Minister turned down.
The Public Protector then felt obliged to subpoena Muthambi and on 4 August placed on record her concern about the attitude that the Communications Minister was displaying towards a Chapter 9 institution.
'Nothing but contempt'
In response to the letter by Muthambi declining to meet her, Madonsela wrote:
1. Your letter dated 30 July 2014 has reference,
2. Having noticed the tone of the said letter and the demeanour of and remarks made by you, I regard it as prudent to refer you to section 9(1) of the Public Protector Act, 1994 which prohibits contempt of the Public Protector and reads as follows:
"No person shall- (a) Insult the Public Protector or the Deputy Public Protector, (b) In connection with an investigation do anything which, if the said investigation had been proceedings in a court of law, would have constituted contempt of court."
3. Despite your statement to the effect that you have a duty to protect the constitutional position of my office to carry out its mandate within the parameters of the law, the tone of your letter shows nothing but contempt, For example you say you do not wish to debate the matter with me through letters, and then make a decision not to appear before me. I invited you to a meeting and your response does not say you are unable to attend but rather that you choose not to attend. If this is not contemptuous, what is?
Growing public concern about Muthambi's conduct was reflected in newspaper editorials and articles by political commentators and columnists.
On 8 August The Times headlined its editorial 'Claims of respect for constitution about to be tested'...
The editorial reads 'Muthambi is in contempt of Madonsela's office by refusing to give clear answers about why she endorsed the appointment of Motsoeneng' and goes on to say 'this legal battle will reveal whether President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet respect the constitutional powers Madonsela holds, as Zuma has repeatedly asserted, or whether he feels free to disregard them'.
Two eNCA interviews conducted after Motsoeneng's appointment was announced provide more perspective on the issue.
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Thuli Mdonsella for President! She exhibits a willingness to state things as she sees them despite the potential for political condemnation. And, she is one of the few Public Figures who adheres the ethical standards and moral compass that is required.for a Leader.Robin Prior.