Muthambi opposes DA bid challenging SABC appointment

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has filed papers opposing the Democratic Alliance’s court challenge to the appointment of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“I have already done that,” she told reporters at Parliament.

However, Muthambi declined to reveal her grounds for opposing the opposition party’s bid to have the appointment of the chief operating officer reviewed, saying the matter was sub judice.

“There are processes and you must respect that they are sub judice. It is unfair to me to ask that.”

Muthambi also dismissed calls from the media to make public the findings of Mchunu Attorneys, the law firm the SABC board briefed to advise it on the public protector’s damning findings against Motsoeneng.

She said she had not directly relied on its opinion when she decided to confirm his appointment.

“The SABC appointed a legal firm to assist them to deal with the matters raised by the public protector … that legal opinion cleared Mr Motsoeneng of any wrongdoing to that effect.

No direct dealing
“I indicated that my confirmation of the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng was based on what the SABC brought to me, the recommendations.”

The law firm’s apparent attempt to distance itself from the matter, Muthambi said, should therefore simply be read as an attempt to make clear that it did not brief her, the minister added.

“The legal firm that you are referring to, I don’t think they have distanced themselves from the legal opinion they provided to the SABC, I didn’t deal with that law firm to advise me on what I was supposed to do.

“I have got my own legal advisor … The legal firm said they have got nothing to do with the advice to me to confirm the appointment … but the fact that there is a legal opinion that the SABC was given by the legal firm that cleared Mr Motsoeneng is there.”

Respect for chapter nine institutions
In February, public protector Thuli Madonsela found that while acting as chief operating officer, Motsoeneng had his salary increased from R1.5-million to R2.4-million in one year, purged senior staff and misrepresented his qualifications.

Madonsela recommended the SABC appoint a new chief operating officer within 90 days, but according to the board, the law firm found that he had done nothing wrong.

Muthambi on Thursday defended the SABC’s decision to appoint a firm to look into Madonsela’s findings, saying she respected chapter nine institutions but the SABC also had a right to “protect the interests of the organisation”.

Asked whether she supported Motsoeneng’s view that journalists should be licensed, the minister said she had not given the matter any thought.

“I have never even thought about whether journalists should be licensed or not,” she said, adding that Motsoeneng was, “like any other person in the country”, entitled to his private views. – Sapa

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