The Labour Court today ordered the former COO of the SABC, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the former Group Executive of News, Mr Simon Tebele and the SABC to jointly pay BEMAWU’s legal cost in defending the dismissal of three of the SABC 7 in July 2016.
The SABC 8 (seven were employees) were dismissed in July 2016 after they questioned the unlawful Protest Policy originated and championed by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, supported by the then SABC Board and enforced by Tebele, Maseko, Ditlahakanyane and Molete.
Seven of the 8 journalists were reinstated after an urgent application were brought by both BEMAWU and Solidarity.
This cost order is a victory for in particular public service employees and parastatals , who previously were up against the money powers of the state and corporations who could out-litigate them.
Officials can be held liable in person for patently wrong and unlawful decisions.
BEMAWU’s application for cost against former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and former GE, NEWS Simon Tebele was heard in the Labour Court on Wednesday, 6 September 2017.
The cost order against the two and the SABC have already been granted in principle, and they were directed to file affidavits as to why they should not be held liable personally for the legal cost of BEMAWU.
The SABC 8 were dismissed in July 2016 after they questioned the unlawful Protest Policy originated and championed by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, supported by the then SABC Board and enforced by Tebele, Maseko, Ditlahakanyane and Molete.
Seven of the 8 journalists were reinstated after an urgent application were brought by both BEMAWU and Solidarity.
To express the court’s displeasure with the manner in which the dismissals took place an punitive cost order were granted against the SABC and others responsible for the dismissal of the 8 journalists. The court directed the SABC to identify the individuals so responsible, and ordered those identified to file affidavits as to why they should not be held responsible for the cost of the applications.
The SABC identified Simon Tebele as the culprit, but an application was brought to join Hlaudi Motsoeneng as a Respondent due to overwhelming evidence pointing at him as the actual person responsible for the dismissals.
The SABC argued on Wednesday Tebele and Motsoeneng must be held solely responsible for the cost, and submitted if the SABC is liable, it should only be for 10% of the cost.
Motsoeneng’s lawyer differed, and argued Tebele and Jimmy Matthews must be held liable jointly with the SABC.
Tebele’s lawyer agreed with BEMAWU’s submission that Motsoeneng must be held liable. Tebele said he signed the dismissals after so instructed by Matthews. However, at the time of the dismissals, Matthews has already left the SABC.
On Monday 12 December 2016 members of the SABC 8 testified before Parliament.
Lukhanyo Calata gave details of instructions that disregarded journalistic principles. This he said came from, among others, Simon Tebele, Nothando Maseko and Nyana Molete.
Calata was dismissed by letter and no hearing on 18 July 2016 by Nyana Molete, who was the acting general manager of News at the time.
SAFM Current Affairs Executive Producer, Krivani Pillay, has told Parliament’s ad hoc committee into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) how Hlaudi Motsoeneng and former acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jimi Matthews told journalists to toe the line or leave the public broadcaster.
Pillay was one of four witnesses testifying on behalf of the so-called “SABC 8”.
Pillay recounted how RSG Executive Producer, Foeta Kriege, challenged Motsoeneng to prove that the broadcasting of violent protests was a catalyst for more destruction of property.
Pillay says Head of Radio News, Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, also attended the meeting.
Pillay outlines how Motsoeneng responded to Kriege – with the backing of Matthews: “This was Mr Motsoeneng’s reply and I quote, “You must defend the organisation; no journalist is independent. The COO has final responsibility of news. If people do not adhere, we get rid of them. We cannot dare question management”.
What really surprised us was the respond we got from Mr Jimi Matthews. He said, “It’s cold outside. If you don’t like it, you have got two choices: the door or the window,” explained Pillay.
SABC acting head of news Simon Tebele was fingered alongside Motsoeneng for firing the eight SABC employees and was brought to court to be held personally liable for the costs of the case that saw the journalists reinstated. In a previous affidavit, Tebele said he signed the dismissals after former SABC CEO Jimi Matthews gave him a directive. The SABC employees had spoken out against the policy not to cover protests and were side-lined for their views.
In court on Wednesday, Tebele’s lawyer, Paul Pio, told the court to disregard that affidavit. He said there is “substantial evidence that overwhelmingly suggests Motsoeneng was responsible for the dismissal”.
Despite his client’s previous affidavit, and the chance he could be held accountable for previously lying to the court, Tebele’s representative was adamant that Motsoeneng should in the main pay the legal costs for the SABC journalists who were fired.
Tebele has since left the SABC.
However, Maseko, Molete and Ditlhakanyane are still employed by the SABC.
Judgement has been reserved for Friday, 8 September at 10:00.
Some media reports:
The unlawfully and unprocedurally appointed Group Executive of SABC Sport, Sully Motsweni has been placed on special leave with immediate effect to afford her the opportunity to provide reasons why she should not be suspended.
Motsweni, who was fingered in the Public Protector’s report “When Governance & Ethics failed” for inter alia the huge salary increase she received was given until the 31st of August 2017 to respond to the letter.
President Jacob Zuma has authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate certain matters in respect of procurement at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), in terms of section 2 (2) of the Special Investigating Unit and Special Tribunals Act, 1996. The Proclamation authorises the SIU to investigate the following allegations:
• The procurement of, or contracting for goods, works or services by or on behalf of the SABC from various companies or service providers and payment made in respect thereof in a manner that was not fair, transparent, competitive and equitable or cost effective.
• Any undisclosed or unauthorised interest that certain members of the personnel of the SABC may have had with regard to contractors, suppliers or service providers who submitted bids for work or did business with the SABC; or contractors awarded by or on behalf of the SABC.
The Proclamation further authorises the SIU to investigate allegations of:
(a) Serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the SABC.
(b) Improper or unlawful conduct by board members, officials or employees of the SABC.
(c) Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property.
(d) Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive act, transaction, measure or practice having a bearing upon State property.
(e) Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property.
(f) Unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public or any category thereof.
Issued by: The Presidency
The portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday decided if two or more parties nominate the same candidate, that person would make the shortlist that will be interviewed in September.
When the committee adjourned for lunch, 20 of the 36 spots on the shortlist were filled.
Apart from the interim board – chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, her deputy Mathatha Tsedu, Krish Naidoo, John Matisson and Febe Potgieter-Gqubule – Nomvuyo Batyi, currently a board member of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) – received unanimous support.
Former SABC board member Rachel Kalidass were nominated by all parties present except the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The candidates who received support from more than one party and are thus on the list, are:
- Rachel Kalidass
- Khanyisile Kweyama
- Mathatha Tsedu
- Krish Naidoo
- John Matisson
- Febe Potgieter-Gqubule
- Nomvuyo Batyi
- Thabiso Andrew Ramotso;
- Kharidza Dzuguda Rufus;
- Michael Grant Markovitz;
- Willie Currie;
- Leanne Govindsamy;
- Deenadaylen Konar;
- Harriet Meier;
- Dawn Earp;
- Michael Bauer;
- Judge Christopher Greenland;
- Desmond Golding;
- Mathumo Manaka
- Victor Rambau
To read more about each candidate, click on their names.
The Communications Committee in Parliament has received more than 360 applications of persons who want to serve on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) permanent board.
This was revealed by Committee Chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana. The committee was also briefed by the SABC Interim Board on the progress made on the implementation of the Ad Hoc Committee report into the affairs of the SABC.
A new permanent board for the SABC is expected to be in place by the time the Interim Board’s term of office comes to an end next month. The deadline for nominations and applications was 30 June.
Maxegwana explained how many people have applied and how the selection process will unfold.
“Next week we will be starting the process of shortlisting and thereafter interviews as the committee. Up to now by the time of the deadline of the 30th we received 362 applications. The office of the chair is working on summarising who has what in terms of qualifications and who meets the criteria and then that will be presented to the committee next week.”
Kweyama also told the committee that they are currently seeking legal advice on how to hold implicated former board members and staff liable for illegal decisions that led to irregular and wasteful expenditure
Soon after giving a report back on the nominations, it was the turn of the Interim Board to present its progress report. The board told Members of Parliament that it has already terminated two irregular contracts, suspended a third one and the fourth one is under review.
Interim Board Chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama said that action emanated from the sixth recommendation of the Ad Committee that the board should institute independent forensic investigations into irregular and questionable contracts. Some of them include the Morning Live/ New-Age Breakfast show and the Multi-Choice archive deal.
“The Interim Board has terminated the contracts with Lorna Vision and ANN7. Lorna Vision was the TV license collection and ANN7 was the breakfast. The contract with SekelaXabiso which had also been employed to look at the fruitless and wasteful expenditure is on suspension. The Multi-Choice contract is under review on the ground that the important aspects of it are a disadvantage to the SABC and are contrary to public interest.”
Kweyama also told the committee that they are currently seeking legal advice on how to hold implicated former board members and staff liable for illegal decisions that led to irregular and wasteful expenditure.
She says recovering losses due to unlawful decisions is one of the recommendations in the Ad Hoc Committee Report.
“Recommendation number eight was to take appropriate action against current and former employees and board members who are found to have been complicit in the SABC incurring wasteful expenditure as a result of irregular activities. The Interim Board is seeking legal opinion on the liability of board members, officials, group executives and employees who participated in meetings where decisions were taken that are contrary to the policies of the corporation as well as the legislative framework governing the SABC.”
However the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is not happy saying the Interim Board should move with speed to lay criminal charges against those who were implicated. In addition EFF member of the committee Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also said some journalists were not innocent in some of the wrongdoings at the SABC.
“By the way it is not just instructions and intimidation that journalists are receiving. It is also journalists that are very manipulative that were gladly participating, so we have got to balance that scale. There are journalists that were not doing proper things in there and I hope that the perspective would be balanced in that sense. It is not just management but also there are journalists who were complicit who were participating willingly in wrong things.”
One of the questions raised by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Phumzile van Damme relates to the secrecy around the bailout figure requested by the SABC.
“We haven’t been told how much it is that the SABC is required from National Treasury. I know that the Minister has said that information must not be given out but now I am asking you as the board, as the body to which you report, which is Parliament. Can we be told how much is it that the SABC required from National Treasury? I would not be satisfied with the answer that the Minister has said, don’t give that information. You as the board report to us.”
Van Damme’s question was not answered. A decision was taken by the Committee Chair to save the question to the Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
“I think the minister will respond to the question.”
During the meeting, Kweyama also confirmed that axed former Head of Corporate Affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng is challenging his dismissal and that the matter will be heard soon.
“Yes Mr Motsoeneng has taken his dismissal to the CCMA and I think in the next day or so, there will be an appearance with the SABC being present.”
Other questions that the Interim Board was facing included what action they have taken against those managers who were allegedly referred to as Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s enforcers by the late SABC 8 journalists Suna Venter who recommended to the Ad Hoc Committee that they be investigated.
The EFF also wanted to know what were the benefits that Jimi Matthews received after resigning under a cloud at the SABC and the ANC was interested in among other things,- the relationship between the Interim Board and labour.
JOHANNESBURG – Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela says the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board has not been co-operating fully with the investigation into allegations of corruption against Hlaudi Motsoeneng
On Tuesday, Motsoeneng reported for duty at the SABC as an “ordinary employee” after the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected his bid for leave to appeal against a High Court ruling that set aside his permanent appointment.
Madonsela says if Motsoeneng is appointed to any senior position, it will be illegal.
“The last thing you would want to do is to appoint Mr Motsoeneng into any senior position until a proper disciplinary inquiry has been done based on the previous report which was called for in government.”
Madonsela says she has written to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and the SABC board.
“It was also alleged that the board allows Mr Motsoeneng to do whatever he pleases and in return the board gets to have as many meetings as it wants, and obviously it gets paid for sittings. The board is also given tickets to various events against policy.”
Earlier today, Madonsela said that if Motsoeneng is returned to the permanent position of COO, there would need to be a probe into the SABC board.
“We are conducting an investigation into various allegations of corruption, abuse of power and maladministration by Mr Motsoeneng, who is alleged to be involved in wrongful procurement and the dismissal of people who stand in his way.”
From an article on EWN
OPEN LETTER TO ALL BEMAWU MEMBERS
Just how honourable is the SABC board?
This is the question being asked by WILSON JOHWA on SEPTEMBER 22 2016, in bussiness day (http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2016/09/22/editors-lunchbox-sabc-boards-honour-or-lack-thereof-on-display)
“This is most likely to depend on whether board members decide to reappoint Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has come to realise that the courts cannot protect him from the recommendation of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela — that he is not fit for the office of chief operating officer. The SABC board is scheduled to convene on October 28.”
BEMAWU has seen a memorandum addressed to Board Members to vote for the appointment (again) of Mr Motsoeneng as Acting COO.
The memorandum is fatally flawed, as it listed Mr Motsoeneng as a recipient to vote in a Round Robin. The High Court ruled that Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment must be set aside – a decision now accepted by him after the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest authority for non-constitutional matters declined, in no uncertain terms his leave to appeal. Therefore Mr Motsoeneng is no longer an employee of the SABC, and in any event, he cannot vote for his own appointment.
Was this an oversight, or is this indicative of how the Public Broadcaster’s affairs are run from the top? If it was an oversight, how many more oversights that we do not know off?
What will happen if the Board decides to appoint Mr Motsoeneng as acting COO again – despite an earlier court ruling that his appointment was unlawful? Will this entire process of fruitless and wasteful litigation repeats itself? It would be interesting to see what has happened with Advertising Sales – the life blood of the SABC’s existence since this matter started.
A wild guess would be that it is considerably down – maybe with more than 50%?
What impact did the compulsive announcement of 90/10 content had on the SABC’s coffers? Suddenly the higher LSM advertisers found themselves with a low LSM audience, simply not interested and/or who cannot afford what they advertising. So they moved! Additionally, what financial implication was there in terms of already purchased content which now either cannot be broadcasted, or at least in the prime time slots attractive to advertisers? The impact must be massive.
What happens when an employer does not make money? They cut heads. They retrench. Will we ever forget the McKinsey exercise?
“THE SABC has been advised to axe nearly 1 000 staff and to cut R200-million from the cost of its radio and support services.
Two confidential reports by top United States company McKinsey Consultants detail cost-cutting measures ranging from shutting satellite service Astrasat to retrenching staff in chief executive Zwelakhe Sisulu’s office and monitoring personal phone calls.
But McKinsey – which is being paid R6- million to advise the SABC on how to save money – also warns that the cuts will still fail to meet savings the consultancy deems vital to financially safeguarding the SABC. The broadcaster is currently operating with a R60-million deficit.”
Has the time not come for us as employees to stand up and say “No more”? How much more money will be spent before it’s too late? And no, we don’t talk smart English and we are not from outside. We are the workers, we are the union, we are the SABC. It’s your employment that could be at stake. In a country with a very high unemployment rate will you be able to make ends meet without a job? Will you be able to maintain your standard of living? Will you possibly lose your car, your house? Will you be able to afford medical aid? Those are real questions we need to consider.
“South Africa's unemployment rate slightly decreased to 26.6 percent in the June quarter of 2016 from 26.7 percent in the three months to March. The number of unemployed fell by 1.6 percent and employment went down 0.8 percent. Unemployment Rate in South Africa averaged 25.31 percent from 2000 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 31.20 percent in the first quarter of 2003 and a record low of 21.50 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Unemployment Rate in South Africa is reported by the Statistics South Africa.”
A slight decrease in unemployment rate is NOT good news for job seekers. It means possible jobs have been taken. Is it not time to put up our hands and say to the Board enough is enough?
We support Board Member Krish Naidoo:
JOHANNESBURG – South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board member Krish Naidoo has confirmed that members of the board have said they want to reappoint Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the corporation’s acting Chief Operating Officer.
Naidoo has confirmed a report in The Times newspaper this morning that he has opposed the plan after the Supreme Court of Appeal refused to hear an appeal against an earlier ruling that Motsoeneng had been appointed through a flawed process.
He has confirmed his quoted comments in the times that the board of the SABC wants to try and reinstate Motsoneng.
But he says he has voted against the proposal because he believes it would be illegal and undermine the rule of law to essentially ignore the court’s decision that Motsoeneng was not properly appointed.
Naidoo has also said that that time has come for the president and the Affrican National Congress to open their mouths and say something decisive.
He’s also told the paper that it would be illegal for any director of the SABC to actually vote in favour of this resolution and that any board member who votes yes would be in contempt of court.”
If you want us to put an ultimatum to the rest of the Board, please reply to this email and show support for job security, a financially stable SABC, transparent processes when it comes to appointments, equal opportunities for all, proper procurement processes and prosperity.
MEDIA STATEMENT : SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL DISMISSING MR MOTSOENENG’S LEAVE TO APPEAL
The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (BEMAWU) is happy that the litany of legal proceedings by Mr Motsoeneng and the Board to avoid the unavoidable has finally come to an end.
The appointment of Mr Motsoeneng was unlawful. The Minister, the SABC Board and we all knew that – from the beginning. What now remains is the following:
- To held liable personally the Minister and Members of the Board jointly and severally for the legal cost incurred by the SABC to defend the unlawful appontment of Mr Motsoeneng,
- To held liable personally the Minister and members of the Board jointly and severally for all cost incurred by Mr Motsoeneng since his unlawful appointment as an unlawfully appointed person cannot make lawful decisions.
- To remove the Minister and the Board for unlawfully appointing Mr Motsoeneng,
- For its successors to implement the recommendations of the Public Protector, which now remains unchallenged, and as follows:
(c) The SABC Board to ensure that:
1) All monies are recovered which were irregularly spent through unlawful and improper actions from the appropriate persons.
2) Takes appropriate disciplinary action against the following:
(aa) Mr Motsoeneng for his dishonesty relating to the misrepresentation of his qualifications, abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments of Ms Sully Motsweni, and for his role in the purging of senior staff members resulting in numerous labour disputes and settlement awards against the SABC;
(bb) Ms Lulama Mokhobo, the outgoing GCEO for her improper conduct in the approval of the salary increment of Mr Motsoeneng;
(cc) To ensure that any fruitless and wasteful expenditure that had been incurred as a result of irregular salary increments to Mr Motsoeneng, Ms Motsweni, Ms Khumalo and the freelancers, is recovered from the appropriate persons;
(dd) To ensure that in future there is strict and collective responsibility by the SABC Board members through working as a collective and not against each other, in compliance with the relevant legislation, policies and prescripts that govern the National Broadcaster; and
(ee) To issue a public apology to Ms P Ntombela-Nzimande, Ms C Mampane and all its former employees who had suffered prejudice due to the SABC management and Board’s maladministration involving failure to handle the administration of its affairs in accordance with the laws, corporate policies and principles of corporate governance.
(ff) To review all their HR processes pertaining to creation of new posts, appointments and salary scales and progressions.
Hannes du Buisson