Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng is standing by the statement he made at a media briefing in April 2017 that ultimately led to his dismissal.

Motsoeneng also maintained on Thursday that the board of the public broadcaster did not have the authority to institute disciplinary proceedings against him, saying only the acting group CEO at the time, James Aguma, had the power to do so.

Motsoeneng was at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Thursday‚ challenging his dismissal from the SABC.

He was dismissed in June 2017 after being found guilty of bringing the broadcaster into disrepute following the media conference he called earlier on April 19.

During cross-examination by the SABC‚ he told the commission that the board had delegated its powers to discipline managers to the group CEO.

He said this meant a disciplinary hearing would be handled by the employee’s line manager‚ and in the case of a chief operating officer this was the CEO.

When asked whether he agreed with a statement by the disciplinary committee chair‚ advocate Nazeer Cassim SC‚ that the media briefing was designed to boost his ego‚ Motsoeneng disagreed‚ and said that was Cassim’s opinion.

“I stand by my statement. I want to repeat: There is one Hlaudi in SA. I am unique. There cannot be another one. There is nothing wrong about that statement.”

Motsoeneng said there was nothing wrong with what he had said at the briefing‚ which he said had been organised by the “Friends of Hlaudi”‚ as he was responding to allegations made against him by an ad hoc committee looking into the affairs of the SABC.

“The SABC should be very ashamed to bring these charges…. That is my character. There is no ego there. Ego for what?” asked Motsoeneng.

He said he had been responding to malicious allegations against him.

Motsoeneng said Aguma had given him permission to hold the media briefing to deal with governance at the SABC.

But he was referred to a provision in the SABC disciplinary code‚ which said notwithstanding the delegation of its powers‚ the board did not lose the powers that had been delegated.

Motsoeneng disagreed with this assertion.

“My line manager‚ Mr Aguma, gave me permission to address the press‚” he said.

SABC lawyer Paul Myburgh said Aguma was a person who had shown blind commitment to Motsoeneng‚ as the High Court in Cape Town had found in a 2016 judgment setting aside Motsoeneng’s disciplinary hearing in 2015.

Motsoeneng said that question was irrelevant to the dismissal issue he was facing.

When asked whether the fact that the board had resolved to initiate disciplinary action against him did not impair his opportunity to state his case‚ Motsoeneng said the board did not have authority to do what they did.

“It is unfair. It is unlawful.”

When informed that he had elected not to give oral evidence at his disciplinary hearing‚ Motsoeneng explained he was in hospital and accused the SABC of doing everything in a hurry‚ “knowing I was in hospital”.

“I was forced to put an affidavit. I was not fit after the operation.”

Sowetan reported on Thursday that Hlaudi Motsoeneng had accused SABC board member Krish Naidoo of using his political connections to get him fired when the arbitration hearing over his dismissal resumed on Wednesday.

“When he’s with me‚ he’s a good guy; even here we even joke‚ so we are okay. But immediately when he is on the other side‚ he backstabs me‚” Motsoeneng was quoted as saying.

“He went to the ANC and said‚ ‘Hey‚ there’s an elephant in the room and he doesn’t listen to politicians’‚ and that’s why he then went and talked to the ANC to help him get rid of me.”

The hearing continues.