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25 Nov 2013 17:16
Communications Minister Yunus Carrim. (Gallo)
Hlaudi Motsoeneng's days as the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) acting chief operating officer could be numbered.
Communications Minister Yunus Carrim told the the Cape Town Press Club on Monday that the stalemate that has prevented the SABC from appointing a person to the post of chief operating officer permanently will be resolved this week.
Former SABC executive and sports administrator Mvuzo Mbebe has previously made a claim against the public broadcaster, saying that he was promised the job of chief operating officer by the late former communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, who died in 2009.
It is understood that Mbebe was recommended for the position in 2007 but was never appointed.
Mbebe has on several occasions prevented the broadcaster from appointing a person to the post permanently. In 2008, he was granted an interdict against the appointment of a new chief operating officer, making it impossible for the post to be taken up on a permanent basis.
Carrim told journalists on Monday that negotiations between his department, the SABC and Mbebe (although he did not name him) were at an advanced stage and a settlement could be reached in the next 48 hours.
This would clear the way for the post to be advertised.
"The issue of the post of the chief operating officer has been in a stalemate since 2006 because every time it's advertised, another person who felt he should have got the job holds it up by going to court.
"I'm pleased to say that the negotiations between us [the department of communications, the SABC and the individual concerned] has been extremely cooperative.
The ball is literally in the minister's court," said Carrim.
He said they were looking at one legal aspect to finalise a negotiated deal.
He said if it fails to happen in the next 48 hours, "maybe it will take 72 hours or at most this week".
"We literally have a memo on my desk. [Then] the post will be advertised and people will apply," he said.
Motsoeneng landed the plum job as the second most powerful person at the SABC, despite not having completed high school.
Group chief executive officer Lulama Mokhobo has been quoted as saying matric was not a requirement for successful candidates.
It has been claimed that in the original advert for the job, academic qualifications were required, but Mokhobo allegedly deleted this to ensure Motsoeneng, who has strong political backing, qualified for the position.
Regarding revelations in the public protector's provisional report, which the City Press on Sunday, Carrim said the SABC board would have to decide in the first instance about what it does with the accusations against its senior managers.
"They will then have to report to us, we will engage with them and tell them to attend to the matter and depending on the outcome of the board decisions, we will engage further with them."
City Press said the report, provisionally titled The Blame Game, recommends that Motsoeneng face disciplinary action and pay back irregular salary increases; that his position should be filled by a qualified person; Mokhobo should be brought to book for her "abuse of power and improper conduct" in appointing Motsoeneng; former minister Dina Pule should face censure by Parliament for "issuing unlawful orders"; and former chairperson of the SABC board Ben Ngubane should face disciplinary action for "abuse of power and improper conduct" for, among other things, hiking Motsoeneng's salary to R2.7-million a year.
Carrim said there is nothing he can do regarding the official in his department who has also been fingered in the provisional report, until the final report has been released.
Meanwhile, Carrim revealed that Cabinet will decide on December 4 on the broadband strategy and plan, digital migration and the draft national integrated information and communications technology green paper.
This decision will be followed by countrywide hearings, he said.
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