The SABC’s acting CEO, James Aguma, has explained to parliament how he and the acting CFO and COO appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the Group Executive of Corporate Affairs.
Aguma was answering questions from the Portfolio Committee on Communications on whether or not the SABC board complied with the findings of a report by the Public Protector. That report included the directive that Motsoeneng be removed as COO (a position he occupied at the time that the report was released) and that he not be appointed to another senior position.
The board however, did not comply with most of these findings and instead held its own disciplinary hearing to investigate the claims in the report.
“We looked at the findings and said that they are affecting an employee of the SABC, deployed at that time as the COO… So he [Motsoeneng] stepped down from the position for about two to three weeks to face a disciplinary session,” Aguma said explaining that the matter then became and “employee and employer” internal matter after the report was released.
Aguma added that hearings at the SABC work through an employment relations group which presses charges. In Motsoeneng’s case, the SABC looked for an independent chair for the hearing, who took the SABC through the process of disciplining him.
“He comes out with findings and says ‘not guilty’, but in the process of the disciplinary, certain witnesses were called to testify and we found that there were disparities between what was in the report and what was ventilated at the hearing. And that’s what triggered a review of the report, so we have taken the report to court for review,” he said.
“I sit here now as the GCEO… with a report from an independent chairperson saying that he’s not guilty. What do I do? Immediately I consult with my legal team and say, ‘in light of the SCA [Supreme Court of Appeal] judgement setting aside his appointment as COO, what is the status?’ They said… the case was not about whether he’s an employee or not, it’s about his appointment as COO. So the legal opinion I get that you, put him back in his old shoes [as GE of Corporate Affairs],” Aguma added.
Aguma also argued that no court has said that Motsoeneng should be barred from occupying his current position.
“So it only came to reason, that we put him back where he belongs,” he said.