Hlaudi not qualified to be reinstated‚ SABC lawyer tells CCMA
Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng should not be reinstated because he doesn't have the required qualifications.
That was the view of Anton Myburgh SC‚ counsel for the public broadcaster‚ who was presenting closing arguments on Thursday at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Johannesburg‚ where Motsoeneng is challenging his dismissal from the SABC.
"We ask that you don't reinstate Mr. Motsoeneng. He simply doesn't have the necessary qualifications‚" said Myburgh.
The same argument was made during a hearing at the CCMA in March this year‚ when SABC board deputy chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama testified that Motsoeneng was not qualified to hold any position at the broadcaster. She said even if the courts were to rule that he be reinstated‚ he would fall short of the requirements.
Motsoeneng was fired by the public broadcaster in June 2017. His dismissal followed a finding by a disciplinary committee‚ chaired by Nazeer Cassim SC‚ that he was guilty of bringing the broadcaster into disrepute at a controversial media conference that he called on April 17 2017.
In the briefing‚ which lasted four hours‚ Motsoeneng defended his 90% local music content quota‚ criticised a parliamentary ad hoc committee probe into the fitness of the SABC‚ and insulted interim SABC board member Krish Naidoo.
In June this year‚ when it was his turn to testify at the CCMA‚ Motsoeneng accused Naidoo of using his political connections to get him sacked. He claimed Naidoo instructed the ANC to get rid of him.
Myburgh contended that Motsoeneng had made "extraordinarily" serious allegations against a lot of people‚ including the public protector. He argued that Motsoeneng's remarks at the 2017 press conference were made out of malice and revenge‚ and that he used the conference to inflate his ego.
Myburgh further argued that Motsoeneng was bound by contractual stipulations and could not rely on freedom of expression as a defence for making defamatory remarks. "Mr. Motsoeneng's right to freedom of expression is limited. He was not a member of the public; he was a senior employee of the SABC. His right [to freedom of expression] must yield to the rights of others not to be defamed‚" argued Myburgh.
"His statements do not enjoy legal protection because they impair the dignity of others."
Myburgh said Motsoeneng’s statements had undermined his relationship with the SABC‚ which had become irreparable. "If his dismissal is found to be procedurally unfair‚ a continued working relationship is not possible.
“We know that he has no relationship at all with Mr. Naidoo. He can't have his job back."
Earlier on Thursday‚ a group of Motsoeneng’s supporters picketed outside the CCMA.
An official from the CCMA approached Motsoeneng and complained that they were blocking traffic. The building landlord also complained about the disturbance.
Thabiso Mhlamvu‚ chairperson of the South African Arts and Culture Youth Forum (SAACYF)‚ was one of the picketers. He said they supported Motsoeneng because he believed in the transformation of the entertainment industry.
"We don't even want 90% local content - we want 100%. Because we as young people deserve to be taken care of by our government‚" he said.
Mhlamvu said they would be happy if Motsoeneng were to be reinstated in his job as "there is chaos already in the SABC and it is not his fault".
Black First Land First (BLF) said in a statement that they would also stand in solidarity with Motsoeneng. The BLF described him as “a proponent of radical transformation and the only pro-black activist who managed the SABC.”
The hearing continues.