SABC’s Motsoeneng ‘lied’ his way to the top

Public protector Thuli Madonsela has painted a damning picture of “fraud”, “lies” and “abuse of power” by SABC acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and said that communications minister Yunus Carrim must act urgently to stop the rot at the public broadcaster. By Duncan McLeod.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (image courtesy of the Mail & Guardian)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (image courtesy of the Mail & Guardian)

Acting SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was appointed irregularly to the position and committed fraud by lying repeatedly about his qualifications.

These are just two of a wide number of damning findings in a report by public protector Thuli Madonsela that implicates the state-owned broadcaster’s board, as well as former communications minister Dina Pule and other senior executives and government officials, in maladministration, systemic corporate governance failures and abuse of power.

Madonsela’s report finds that Motsoeneng was appointed to several posts at the SABC despite having no qualifications — not even a matric certificate — and that he lied about this in an attempt to cover it up.

“Motsoeneng would have never been appointed [to the SABC] in 1995 had he not lied about his qualifications,” the report finds. He repeated the lie in 2003 when he applied for the post of executive producer of current affairs, a position to which he should never have been appointed.

The report says an allegation that Motsoeneng committed fraud by stating in a job application form that he had completed matric from Metsimantsho High School is “substantiated”.

By his own admission, Motsoeneng had “filled in made-up symbols” and promised to supply a matric certificate to confirm his qualifications when he knew he had not completed matric and did not have the promised certificate, Madonsela’s report says.

It finds that SABC management — and its human resources department — did not exercise the necessary prudence to avoid Motsoeneng’s misrepresentation of his qualifications and that this constituted “improper conduct and maladministration”.

Madonsela expresses “concern” that Motsoeneng’s employment file “disappeared amid his denying ever falsifying his qualifications”.

The report finds, too, that Motsoeneng received salary increases that were in violation of the SABC’s personnel regulations. Outgoing group CEO Lulama Mokhobo must account for signing off on a big salary hike for Motsoeneng.

Gugu Duda was also appointed irregularly as chief financial officer, the reports says, even though she was not an applicant for the position and was only interviewed long after the recruitment process had been closed. This appears to have happened at the insistence of disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule. Duda’s appointment was “unlawful”.

“Although I could not find conclusive evidence that Pule personally ordered that Duda’s CV be handed over to the SABC and that the board interview her against the law as alleged, there is sufficient evidence that suggests an invisible hand from her direction and that of [Pule’s boyfriend, Phonsane] Mngqibisa, to which we can legitimately attribute this gross irregularity.”

Even though Pule has denied the allegations, Madonsela notes that it is “unclear” why the minister “speedily approved [Duda’s] appointment as she did when the irregularities were obvious”.

“The conduct of Pule as minister of communications was accordingly improper and constitutes maladministration,” Madonsela says in her report.

Pule’s conduct constitutes a violation of the executive ethics code and is an abuse of power.

Furthermore, communications department acting director-general Themba Phiri acted unlawfully in submitting Duda’s CV to Motsoeneng after the selection process had been concluded. In addition, Motsoeneng acted unlawfully in accepting it and ordering that she be included in the selection process.

Communications minister Yunus Carrim must institute disciplinary steps against Phiri, the report says.

Dina Pule ... in trouble yet again

Dina Pule … in trouble once again

Elsewhere, Madonsela finds that Motsoeneng not only purged senior staff members, leading to an “avoidable loss” of millions of rand due to “unnecessary settlements for irregular terminations of contracts”, but he also irregularly increased the salaries of various staff members, including a shop steward, resulting in a salary bill increase of more than R29m.

In her report, Madonsela says Carrim must take “urgent steps” to fill the long-outstanding position of chief operating officer of the SABC. This “suitably qualified permanent incumbent” must be appointed within 90 days. He must also establish why there is a high turnover of group CEOs at the SABC and act to remedy the situation.

Carrim must also define the role and authority of the chief operating officer in relation to the group CEO and ensure that overlaps in authority are identified and removed.

The SABC board, meanwhile, must take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Motsoeneng for his “dishonesty relating to the misrepresentation of his qualifications, abuse of power and improper conduct” in the appointment and salary increments of SABC executive Sully Motsweni as well as his role in purging senior staff members that led to “numerous labour disputes and settlement awards” against the public broadcaster.

Action must also be taken against Mokhobo for her “improper conduct” in bumping up Motsoeneng’s salary.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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