SABC committee turns down last-ditch bid to call Hlaudi Motsoeneng
Former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng will not be called to testify in front of Parliament’s ad hoc committee on the SABC board.
The committee met on Thursday to deliberate over the working document arising from its inquiry, but also debated UDM chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa's request that it call Motsoeneng.
The working document was leaked on Tuesday night — to the "dismay" of its chairperson‚ Vincent Smith.
On Thursday morning‚ Kwakwa repeated his contention that it would be in the interest of “fairness and natural justice” to give Motsoeneng an opportunity to respond to claims made against him by many witnesses.
Kwankwa also said former SABC chairs Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tshabalala‚ the last two witnesses to give testimony last Friday‚ were invited to the inquiry to give them a chance to answer “damning allegations” made against them. Motsoeneng should similarly be given the same chance‚ he argued.
The EFF’s Fana Mokoena disagreed‚ saying the “mandate of the committee is not to clear people’s names”.
The DA’s Phumzile van Damme was animated in her opposition to Kwankwa’s request‚ criticising him for bringing it “at the 11th hour”.
The IFP’s Narend Singh said the committee was not intended as a “disciplinary hearing” against Motsoeneng‚ but rather to find a way to correct the ills plaguing the public broadcaster.
He also said Motsoeneng did not deserve “special treatment because he was mentioned so much”‚ and added that “he was mentioned so often during the inquiry because he had “flouted so many regulations”.
The committee decided against the proposal.
Smith had told TMG Digital on Thursday morning, before the committee met, that "you would recall that that issue [asking Motsoeneng to testify] was discussed and a position taken by the committee"‚ which was to not call any further witnesses.
The working document recommended tough action against those involved in causing the crises at the public broadcaster.
If its recommendations make it through to the final version of the report‚ Motsoeneng would almost certainly be among the employees facing action.
In the "leaked" document‚ the committee said action should be taken against employees who "incurred or permitted" irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure, which totalled more than R5.1bn between 2014 and 2016.
The committee also said that the SABC board must institute a forensic audit into the agreement that resulted in the transfer of part of the SABC’s archives to MultiChoice.
Motsoeneng is said to have championed the deal‚ which has been mired in controversy. Questions have been raised about whether the archives have been used for commercial gain by a private entity.