The Western Cape High Court has ruled in favour of the Democratic Alliance, calling the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the SABC’s group executive of corporate affairs unlawful and irrational.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane and chairperson of the DA’s federal executive James Selfe were present at the court when the ruling was made. Motsoeneng was absent. Judge Owen Rogers said in his judgment that the SABC disciplinary hearing which cleared Motsoeneng of all charges – which included a lie that Motsoeneng had completed matric – was “wholly inadequate”.
Judge Rogers said that the initial disciplinary process should be put aside and a new hearing should be established and open to the public in line with the public protector’s report on the SABC. The judge also said that the new hearing should be chaired by an independent person who should be appointed by the court within two months.
The DA filed papers in October 2016 in a court bid to have Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs declared invalid. The party has accused Motsoeneng of being a “Zuma-appointed czar”. In November, Motsoeneng appeared unconcerned about the DA’s case against him.
“The DA is so stressed. But I am not stressed,” Motsoeneng said while addressing supporters outside the Western Cape High Court in November.
Motsoeneng was appointed acting chief operating officer (COO) of the SABC in 2011 and then permanent COO. He was then moved to the position of group executive of corporate affairs, despite findings against him made in the public protector’s SABC report.
This isn’t the first time a court has ruled against Motsoeneng. In November 2015, Judge Dennis Davis said that Motsoeneng’s appointment as COO of the SABC should be set aside. The SABC tried to appeal the ruling, but lost their case earlier this year.
Despite these defeats, Motsoeneng has come out unscathed, maintaining an executive position within the SABC.
The Western Cape High Court’s ruling on Monday in favour of the DA was made as the parliamentary inquiry into the SABC’s board fitness to hold office continued. During the course of the hearings, numerous submissions by former board members have indicated that Motsoeneng enjoys near unlimited power within the SABC, as well as a possible link to the Gupta family.
The Western Cape High Court said that the SABC must cover the legal costs of the DA in its judgment.