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

Controversial SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been fired from the public broadcaster following recommendations after an independent disciplinary hearing.

Interim board chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama said on Monday that Motsoeneng had been found guilty of misconduct and bringing the SABC into disrepute.

It was recommended that he be dismissed, a decision the interim board accepted.

Motsoeneng was charged for comments he made at an April 19 media briefing, while under suspension, about the interim board; Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the crisis at the public broadcaster; and the SABC’s ailing finances.

The SABC asked the Treasury for a bail-out after acknowledging in March that it faced a financial crisis and that it was drawing on its reserves to meet operational expenses.

The financial crisis at the public broadcaster has been blamed on the executive under Motsoeneng and the former board. Such has been the malaise that the members of the interim board earlier decided to forego their fees.

It is not yet clear whether Motsoeneng will challenge his dismissal. Despite the public announcement of his dismissal, Motsoeneng said on Monday that he had not been informed of the decision.

Kweyama, however, said the decision had been communicated to him.

“I haven’t seen it and my lawyer hasn’t seen it yet,” Motsoeneng told Business Day.

“I need to sit down with my lawyer and go through the ruling and check what the chairman said and then be able to deal with the issues,” Motsoeneng said.

Labour analyst Tony Healy said that whether Motsoeneng was informed or not would have no bearing on the outcome. “It’s not going to give Motsoeneng a technical gap to attack the fairness of the dismissal.”

Kweyama did not give details on whether Motsoeneng’s dismissal was with immediate effect. Motsoeneng was a permanent employee on a fixed contract, which would end only in a year or two.

However, Kweyama said he would not be able to appeal against his dismissal based on his contract.

“When you are dismissed the conditions of your employment don’t matter anymore because you have now been dismissed on misconduct [charges] …

“What it says in simplistic terms is you had a contract, you did not respect that contract, therefore we don’t have to respect our part of the contract.”

The DA welcomed Motsoeneng’s dismissal and advised him not to “waste the public and the SABC’s time and money” with further litigation.

However, the opposition party still wanted him to be held accountable for the crisis at the SABC.

Kweyama said the interim board had also taken the decision to overturn some of the editorial policy decisions taken by Motsoeneng.

The interim board rescinded the policy ban on showing images of violent protests in which public property was being burnt, in line with a directive by the Independent Communications Authority of SA.

It also overturned the 90% local content policy, saying it had led to revenue loss.

Kweyama said the SABC would have “permanent leadership” within a few months.

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