Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has given former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s review application against her predecessor Thuli Madonsela’s report on the SABC’s affairs a boost after informing the court that she won’t be opposing Motsoeneng’s application.
The move was a shock to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that was counting on Mkhwebane for support.
Sunday World can reveal that Mkhwebane’s legal manager Muntu Sithole wrote a letter to the SIU’s attorneys, Werksmans, in May informing them that she has decided not to oppose the application based on legal advice.
Mkhwebane cited financial constraints in her office and the belief that Motsoeneng’s review application had no prospects of success among reasons for her decision.
The public protector’s spokesman, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed that Mkhwebane was not opposing Motsoeneng’s review application, but said that did not mean that she believed that Motsoeneng was going to win.
“The letter is authentic. First, the SIU is opposing the application and, in our view, there are no prospects of success for Mr Motsoeneng. Second, the Western Cape High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal have already clarified the legal position in respect of the matter in question. Third, the remedial action has already been implemented. In light of the above and our resource constraints, it wouldn’t be wise to enter the fray,” said Segalwe.
The SIU argues that the public protector’s decision not to oppose the matter will have far reaching consequences for the case and other court matters it has filed against Motsoeneng.
Mandonsela’s 2014 report had found that there was prima facie evidence that Motsoeneng had lied about his matric qualifications, had abused his powers to grant certain employees promotions and salary increases and that he had purged senior staff members who did not agree with him.
In his review application, Motsoeneng suggests that Madonsela’s report and its findings were not based on clear evidence and that the findings were therefore not fair to him.
SIU spokesman Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that they were aware of the public protector’s decision but had a different view. He said the SIU has started to engage with Mkhwebane’s office and will continue with the discussions even if all else fails.