Madonsela's report on Motsoeneng binding - lawyer

Cape Town - The remedial action Public Protector Thuli Madonsela set out in her report on SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is binding, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

Etienne Labuschagne, for Madonsela, said it had been assumed the remedial action was no more than a recommendation and that an organ of state could act in conflict with it.

"That, in our submission, would sound the death knell for the effectiveness of the office of the public protector," he said.

Madonsela's submissions as a respondent were being heard during the DA's urgent application to have Motsoeneng suspended pending a review of the decision to permanently appoint him.

The political party has asked the court to immediately suspend him because he was a "toxic influence". It believed his permanent appointment was fraught with irrationality and unlawful processes.

Labuschagne said there was a recent "pernicious" tendency by organs of state and government to avert complying with Madonsela's remedial action, either by appointing a task team to procure a report with a different conclusion, or to obtain another opinion from a law firm.

If organs of state did not abide by their constitutional obligation to enforce the remedial action, it constituted interference with the Chapter Nine institution and amounted to an offence in the Public Protector Act.

"The single most powerful weapon in the hands of the public protector that strengthens our democracy is the power to take remedial action... we would urge your lordship to find that her power to take remedial action is an authentic constitutional power."

This power could not be watered down but, at best, regulated, Labuschagne said.

The court was not bound by Madonsela's findings and was in a position to dictate its own remedial action to be followed.

‘Jumping the gun’

Lawyers for Motsoeneng, the SABC board and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had argued that Madonsela's report offered proposals or recommendations.

They further argued the DA was "jumping the gun" and undermining the rule of law because Madonsela, Muthambi and the board were still in talks.

In February, Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng while he was acting COO.

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.

While she did not direct that he be immediately suspended, she said a new COO should be appointed at the SABC within 90 days.

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.

On Wednesday, her lawyer defended the appointment, saying it would benefit the SABC.

According to Muthambi, Motsoeneng had 13 achievements to his name within the SABC and had brought about the "highest revenue generation and cost-saving that has brought more than R2bn to the SABC coffers".

Adam Brown 2014/08/20 09:24:56 PM
Thuli for president!
Xolile MaMsibi Namane 2014/08/20 09:39:50 PM
Bye bye matricless Hlaudi....please go finish school
Made-In SA 2014/08/20 09:41:39 PM
It is one crook,Ellen Tshabalala[who also lied about her qualifications],protecting another crook[Cloudy] that is protecting the Number One crook.But what Clownsoeneng did was illegal,and it is untenable that he remain.
Hasani P 2014/08/20 09:48:50 PM
Is that so, the report is final
Willem Wulfse 2014/08/20 10:00:46 PM
Why does the same not apply to the chief crook?
Lawrence Robert Atkinson 2014/08/20 10:01:00 PM
If the minister and SABC were seriously considering the PP Report, whY would they then appoint him into the position. That's arrogance, that's spitting in the face of the PP Report. This disregarding the binding finDings of the PP has to stop
Hasani P 2014/08/20 10:03:16 PM
So there is a pernicious tendency on organs of state and the government to avert complying with the pp's report by trying to procure another report with different conclusions , in so doing they have contravened the Public Protector's Act. So the SIU appointed by Zuma on Nkandla is also in contravention of the Public Protector'Act. The president should summon his advisors to properly peruse the Act
Gaby Hide 2014/08/20 10:03:29 PM
This is very important. If the rule of law is lost, it's over.
Hasani P 2014/08/20 10:07:36 PM
So inimical. Thanks Thuli for safeguarding our constitution. Long live the spirit of mandela
Kevern Upton 2014/08/20 10:30:28 PM
The death knell of PP has already been sounded, previous binding remedial action failed to see new COO appointed n 90 days, subsequently despite the non compliance pp is now in talks!