Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Photo: Elizabeth Sejake)
Cape Town – The SABC cannot investigate the findings and remedial action of the Public Protector through a law firm or any other outlet, the Chapter nine institution said on Thursday.
Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe was commenting on a story in the New Age newspaper on Thursday, which quoted the broadcaster’s court papers saying that SABC CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng should not be punished for a lie he told 19 years ago.
“Not even a court of law can re-investigate a report of the Public Protector,” said Segalwe. “The court can only review the report and if there are loop holes, refer the report back for reconsideration as was the case in the Mail & Guardian vs the Public Protector case in the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala had denied that the broadcaster and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi rewarded “malfeasance” when permanently appointing Motsoeneng.
“He has been appointed in the interests of the SABC - to achieve its stability going forward,” she was quoted as saying.
“Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been in the position of acting COO for more than two years and there is no direct evidence of harm that he has caused to the SABC in that time.”
“The Public Protector doesn't understand how the minister can deny a written request to which she [the Minister] responded in writing, refusing to meet with the Public Protector, telling her that she does not want to debate with her through letters,” said Segalwe.
In February, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting COO. She found that his salary increased from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC.
Madonsela recommended that a new COO be appointed to the SABC within 90 days.
Motsoeneng cleared in July
In July, Muthambi announced Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment, saying he was cleared of all wrongdoing by a legal firm before the decision was made.
The Democratic Alliance launched a high court bid to have his appointment set aside. Muthambi and the SABC filed opposing court papers.
The newspaper reported that Tshabalala, in her papers, rubbished Madonsela’s report.
“Upon investigation into this recommendation by the public protector, the SABC is satisfied that there has been no irregular spending through unlawful and improper actions of Motsoeneng.”
Madonsela’s office said on Wednesday she had subpoenaed Muthambi as part of her investigation because she could not secure a meeting with her.
“The public protector wrote to the minister last month requesting a meeting and the minister responded by saying that as the matter is a subject of an ongoing court process, she was not going to avail herself for a meeting with the public protector, Madonsela’s spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said.