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Lawyer: DA undermining rule of law

2014-08-20 16:52

Cape Town - The DA is undermining the rule of law by using legal rather than administrative processes to remove SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Vincent Maleka, for Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, said the Democratic Alliance's urgent application to suspend Motsoeneng undermined the power of both his client and Parliament.

He said the National Assembly had the power to remove an SABC executive after due inquiry.

"Once the National Assembly starts with that process, then the minister [Muthambi] has the discretion to remove or suspend an affected executive. It vests the powers of the suspension to the executive.

"In that case, they [the DA] ask that you ignore that process of due inquiry," he said.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on Motsoeneng interfaced with this parliamentary process in that she could report her findings if she wished.

Muthambi meeting with Madonsela

Muthambi intended meeting the communications portfolio committee on Tuesday to take it through Madonsela's findings.

"As we make submissions to his lordship today [Wednesday], the minister is meeting with the public protector on this very issue. Those who know better say that the public protector subpoenaed her to appear before her," Maleka said.

"The simple point is it shows how the processes that are contemplated work and why the engagement is important."

The DA began its argument on Tuesday for an urgent interim interdict suspending Motsoeneng, pending a review of the decision to appoint him.

It claimed he was a "toxic influence" in the organisation and a dishonest character.

Supporters

It argued the SABC's board unlawfully recommended his appointment, that the decision to appoint him was irrational, and that it was doubtful whether the SABC would comply with Madonsela's proposed remedial action.

Motsoeneng has sat in on proceedings both days, while over 100 people continued to support him with loud songs and by blowing vuvuzelas outside court.

In February, Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting COO, titled "When Governance and Ethics Fail".

She found 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 at the SABC within 90 days.

Board chair rubbishes report

In July, Muthambi announced Motsoeneng's permanent appointment. She said he was cleared of all wrongdoing by a legal firm before the decision was made.

The DA then launched a high court bid to have his appointment set aside. Muthambi and the SABC filed opposing court papers.

SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala, in her court papers, rubbished Madonsela's report.

Tshabalala said the broadcaster knew from day one that Motsoeneng did not have matric. She said he was not dishonest, had never misled the SABC, and was not responsible for any irregular spending.

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