A law firm appointed by the SABC to review Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng has cleared him and opened the way for his permanent appointment as chief operations officer of the national broadcaster.
This is according to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, who said yesterday that her decision to accept the SABC board's recommendation that she appoint Motsoeneng was "rational and lawful" despite the Madonsela report.
Madonsela found that the Motsoeneng appointment was irregular and that he lacked the required qualifications. He falsely claimed to have passed Matric.
A 'bizarre' decision
A top constitutional law expert has slammed Muthambi's decision as "bizarre", saying it was not "legally tenable" and was vulnerable to a court challenge because only a court ruling could trump the findings of the public protector.
Motsoeneng's appointment has been roundly criticised, with the ANC saying it was surprised by the decision.
The SA Communist Party condemned it as "disregard of a series of investigations and audits into the SABC". It called on Muthambi to review her decision.
Muthambi said she believed the board had exercised due diligence, "hence I'm saying that my decision was rational ... I respect the independence of the SABC board, so I don't see why I should interfere when they appoint.
"The SABC appointed an independent law firm to investigate all the issues raised by the public protector and I believe that was the responsible way to deal with [it].
"The SABC board is satisfied that the report by the appointed firm of attorneys has cleared Motsoeneng of any wrongdoing ... " she said.
Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said Muthambi's stance on the matter was not legally sound because only a court could set aside Madonsela's findings.
"A private lawyer cannot override the findings of a constitutional body," De Vos said.
The DA has indicated that it is planning to mount a legal challenge to Motsoeneng's appointment.
Madonsela said on Wednesday that she would call a meeting with Muthambi and the SABC board to hear why they went against her recommendation that a suitably qualified candidate be appointed as chief operations officer.
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