SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (City Press)
Cape Town - Hlaudi Motsoeneng was cleared of all wrongdoing by a legal firm before being permanently appointed as the public broadcaster's new chief operations officer, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said on Thursday.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet briefing, Muthambi said there was nothing irregular about Motsoeneng's appointment, despite a Public Protector's report to the contrary.
"The appointment of the independent law firm by the SABC board to investigate all the issues raised by the public protector was the most responsible way to deal with the public protector's report," Muthambi said.
"The SABC board and myself are satisfied that the report by the appointed firm of attorneys has cleared Motsoeneng of any wrongdoing and therefore there was nothing before me that suggested that I should not confirm the appointment."
The board informed the minister about their recommendation after a board meeting on Monday.
"I believe the board has exercised due diligence, therefore I'm saying my decision was rational," Muthambi said.
Muthambi said she could not, by law, dictate to the board who to recommend for appointment.
"My job as the shareholder is not to draw up a job description or stipulate any requirements for a particular job. That's the sole responsibility of the board," she said.
"I respect the independence of the board of the SABC and I therefore see no need to interfere with their duties."
Muthambi announced Motsoeneng's appointment in Pretoria on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela expressed her surprise at Motsoeneng's appointment.
"I'm still waiting for a response from the SABC and from the minister; until then I'm not in a position to understand what has just happened," Madonsela told SABC radio news.
Muthambi said she would not comment on Madonsela's reaction, as she had received no official correspondence from the Public Protector's office.
In Madonsela's report issued in February, she found Motsoeneng's salary increased from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his qualifications - that he passed matric - to the SABC.