SABC's axed group CEO Dali Mpofu has threatened to take President Thabo Mbeki to court for his alleged failure to stop his accusers from suspending him, writes Baldwin Ndaba in The Star.


Mpofu's latest move follows the Johannesburg High Court's decision to reject his view that his employer – the SABC Board – did not have a right to suspend him or lay disciplinary charges.

In his application before Judge Frans Malan, Mpofu argued that the board did not have the power in law to institute a disciplinary inquiry against him, suspend him, and to appoint someone else during his suspension.

According to Mpofu, the only person who had the powers to act against him was Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri in her capacity as the Minister of Communication.

He said his appointment as SABC's CEO was made by the minister and the role of the board was to recommend to the minister to appoint him in that position.

However, on Tuesday Malan in his judgment disagreed with Mpofu's version.

He said: "I do not agree with Mpofu's contention that the role of the board is only to compile a short list of candidates and to make a recommendation to the minister, and that the non-executive directors have no power to appoint a fellow director.

In Malan's view, the board followed the correct procedure of making the recommendation to the minister to make the appointment and later seeking cabinet approval.

"This is what happened when Mpofu was appointed; the board recommended his appointment which was noted with approval by the cabinet.

The minister attended to certain issues requiring clarification and, when that was done, confirmed that the appointment should be made. It was at all times understood that the appointment itself was made by the board."

Malan included in his judgment a copy of Matsepe-Casaburri's letter dated June 22 2005 confirming that the board had appointed Mpofu as CEO with effect on July 1 2005.

Ruling further against Mpofu, the judge said: "The word approve as used in article 19.1.1 (a) must be given its ordinary meaning of 'sanction, ratify or confirm'. In the circumstances of this case it bears no other meaning. The minister is required to 'approve' Mpofu's appointment, not make it."

He further ruled that Matsepe-Casaburri did not have powers to appoint or dismiss, nor did she have powers to institute a disciplinary inquiry.

"The conclusion I have reached is that Mpofu has not shown any infringement of the principle of legality on which he relies. This makes it unnecessary for me to decide whether this court or the Labour Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter."

He dismissed Mpofu's application with costs.

In his reaction, Mpofu said: "We are now going to the main case against the President (Thabo Mbeki) and the Minister of Communications for not stopping the SABC board from abusing their powers. The minister should have taken steps after initially noting that the board members were abusing their powers."

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