Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s lawyer sends MPs a letter of protest
Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s controversial former chief operating officer, has questioned the credibility of a draft report by Parliament’s ad hoc committee investigating the crisis at the public broadcaster.
In a written submission to the committee, Motsoeneng’s lawyer said his client felt "prejudiced" because he had not been invited to take the witness stand.
The ad hoc committee is going through the several responses to its draft report, including submissions by the SABC and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.
Committee chairman Vincent Smith described Motsoeneng’s submission on Tuesday as a "letter of protest".
He said the committee would respond to Motsoeneng’s lawyers to indicate that it disagrees with the submission. However, the letter would be included as an annexure in the final report.
African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart said SABC executives, including Motsoeneng, were given a chance to participate in the inquiry and to cross-examine witnesses, but declined.
Motsoeneng has largely been blamed for the current crisis at the public broadcaster and featured prominently in various witnesses’ testimonies, with many suggesting that he was the main architect of the demise of successive boards at SABC.
UDM chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa argued in January, when the committee considered the draft report, that it was only fair to invite Motsoeneng.
He said former SABC chairs Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tshabalala‚ were invited to the inquiry to give them a chance to answer "damning allegations" made against them.
Kwankwa had argued for Motsoeneng to be given the same chance. But other MPs shot down the proposal, saying Motsoeneng should only be allowed to respond in writing.
"His role at the SABC has been ventilated by the courts. If he would like to respond to the report, he can do so in writing," DA MP Phumzile van Damme said at the time.
Earlier in February, the High Court in Cape Town dismissed the SABC’s application for leave to appeal against its order that Motsoeneng should not occupy any position at the public broadcaster.
The court ruled late last year that Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs — the post he had held prior to becoming chief operating officer — was "irrational and unlawful".
It said Motsoeneng could not occupy any position at the SABC until a 2014 report by the public protector was set aside or new disciplinary processes against him were finalised.
The court said the initial disciplinary hearing that cleared Motsoeneng of wrongdoing was "wholly inadequate".