Motsoeneng judgment has Nkandla implications

The judge said if an organ of state rejects Madonsela's findings, the decision to do so must be rational.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: City Press.

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court on Friday ruled on the enforceability of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings, an issue regarded by Members of Parliament as central to the Nkandla controversy.

Judge Ashton Schippers said Madonsela's findings are not binding and enforceable but if an organ of state rejects those findings the decision to do so must be rational.

Schippers earlier handed down judgment in the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s case against South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

He found there were no rational grounds for the public broadcaster to reject Madonsela's findings on Motsoeneng.

He said Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and the board acted in a way that was arbitrary and irrational and consequently unlawful.

Motsoeneng was permanently appointed to the position of COO at the public broadcaster even after Madonsela made damning findings about his conduct, including that he misrepresented his matric qualifications.

Now, the court has ordered the board to institute disciplinary proceedings against him.

The judge ruled that he should be suspended with full pay pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.

Having Motsoeneng's appointment overturned has become vital to the opposition's battle to hold Zuma accountable for the exorbitant Nkandla upgrades.

The DA and Motsoeneng earlier on Friday clashed over whether the court ruling could force Zuma to pay back the money.

The DA's James Selfe says, "The obligation is on somebody who does not carry out order of the public protector to approach a court to say on what basis they are not prepared to do so."

However, Motsoeneng's lawyer Zola Majavu holds a different view.

"She must still bring an application and then the court, if it agrees with her, must order the particular state organ to do whatever it deems necessary."

Majavu will be appealing Friday's judgment.

Two months ago, Muthambi revealed that Motsoeneng earned R2,87 million last year which is more than the earnings of the president.

She said Motsoeneng's salary rose from just over R1,6 million in 2011 to nearly R2,5 million in 2012.