Court mulls SABC bid to appeal Motsoeneng ruling
The SABC argued yesterday that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment was an internal arrangement and did not constitute an exercise of public power, and thus a court could not review it. A News24 report notes that the public broadcaster was applying to the Western Cape High Court for leave to appeal its earlier ruling on Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs.
The court ruled in December that his appointment was unlawful and that he could not hold any position at the broadcaster, unless a Public Protector's 2014 report on his appointment as chief executive officer was overturned, or a new disciplinary inquiry cleared him. Stephan du Toit, for the SABC, said the judgment set an important precedent. ‘It would allow, in future, outsiders to interfere with the employment policies of any state department or any organ of state,’ he said. Du Toit contested argument by Anton Katz, for the DA, that taxpayers' money was at stake.
There was ‘evidence on paper’ that only 3% of the SABC’s money came from government, and 85% from its commercial activities. He felt it would be better for the SCA to make a definitive decision on what constituted the exercise of public power. Judges Owen Rogers and Andre le Grange reserved judgment until next week. Le Grange said they would need a day or two to consider the arguments.
The SABC is also appealing an order that acting CEO James Aguma personally pay costs for the application. Katz argued that SABC attorneys were now acting for Aguma ‘because he was dissatisfied with the cost order against him’. ‘Who took the decision to appeal this decision? That is the real question,’ he said, adding that the action was ‘an abuse of court process’, says a report on the IoL site. But Du Toit argued it was unfair as Aguma had been acting in a representative capacity and did not fall into a ‘category of bad faith, which has always been the standard when ordering costs’. He said Aguma had not been given a proper opportunity to defend the order. Du Toit warned ‘we have to be careful about the courts running the country. That is not the courts’ job’. Outside court, the DA's federal executive chair James Selfe said ‘we do believe that the argument by the SABC that this is not an exercise of public power is patently wrong’. He said the DA was confident leave to appeal would not be granted, adding: ‘Our Constitution is based on the rational exercise of public power and we have a public institution that exercises that power irrationally.’
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