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SABC board boss: Top exec must be axed

Glynnis Underhill, Andisiwe Makinana

The SABC's Zandile Ellen Tshabalala has taken steps to get chief financial officer Gugu Duda dismissed following irregularities in her appointment.

SABC board chairperson Zandile Ellen Tshabalala. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

SABC board chairperson Zandile Ellen Tshabalala has filed a labour dispute affidavit asking for the dismissal of the public broadcaster's chief financial officer, Gugu Duda, who was found by the public protector Thuli Madonsela to have been irregularly appointed.

In Parliament this week, Congress of the People member of Parliament Juli Kilian said Tshabalala's affidavit had been filed in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) pre-dismissal arbitration hearing by the SABC against Duda on Monday, just days after Madonsela released her explosive SABC report, titled When Governance and Ethics Fail.

Tshabalala's CCMA submission, dated February 24, is "an employer's plea in aggravation" that calls for Duda's dismissal.

It follows a "ruling on substantive guilt" made in December by commissioner Kenny Mosime at the CCMA's pre-dismissal arbitration hearing held at Auckland Park.

Duda, a chartered accountant, has denied all charges of misconduct against her in her submissions to the CCMA. She could not be reached for comment.

Transgression
Kilian told Parliament on Tuesday that the latest submission filed in Duda's hearing was not signed by the outgoing group chief executive officer, Lulama Mokhobo, but by Tshabalala, which she said was a "serious governance transgression".

The broadcaster's spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said it was within the ambit of the board to deal with all issues relating to the employment of the SABC's executive directors.

"The matter of Ms Duda is between the employer and employee and we request any other person not to interfere in this and to allow the process to continue," he said.

In her CCMA submission, Tshabalala wrote that Duda had been found guilty of serious acts of misconduct, the chief of which was misleading Mokhobo over a R1-million payment given to the inaugural ICT Indaba held in Cape Town in 2012.

Duda has denied misleading Mokhobo over the ICT Indaba business plan.

Steering committee
In her CCMA submissions, she said that a steering committee comprising members of six business units at the public broadcaster was established to decide on the SABC's participation as a broadcast partner and its financial contribution to the indaba.

In her report, Madonsela found that acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng acted irregularly with the communications department's acting deputy director general Themba Phiri to "orchestrate" Duda's appointment.

"Ms Duda was interviewed on 7 February 2012, without having applied for said post," wrote Madonsela.

The interview took place after the board had already recommended another candidate to the then communications minister, Dina Pule, who was later removed from her job by President Jacob Zuma.

"The conduct of the SABC management, particularly Mr Motsoeneng and the board, in the appointment of Ms Duda as the CFO [chief financial officer] of the SABC, was in violation of the provisions of section 19.1.1 of the Articles of Association and Broadcasting Act, and accordingly unlawful," Madonsela said in her report.

'Grossly irregular'
"The appointment was grossly irregular and actions involved constitute improper conduct, maladministration and abuse of power."

Tensions have been building at the SABC after Madonsela recommended that Motsoeneng – whom she accused of lying about having a matric, irregularly receiving three salary hikes in one fiscal year, and hiking the salaries of some staff and purging others – be removed from his post.

The findings by Madonsela have been denied by Motsoeneng's lawyer, Zola Majavu, who said the report could be disputed in court.

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