Communications committee to decide fate of SABC board

2013-03-19 08:39

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Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications will decide the fate of the three remaining non-executive board members today at a meeting to be attended by Communications Minister Dina Pule.

Nine of the 11 remaining SABC non-executive board members have resigned and only Claire O’Neil, Phillipa Green and Suzanne Vos remain.

Three SABC executives – chief executive Lulama Mokhobo, acting chief financial officer Tian Olivier and controversial acting operations chief Hlaudi Motsoeneng – also sit on the board.

Chairperson Sikhumbuzo Kholwane said he had asked members of the committee to look for the best possible candidates to make up a five-member interim board if they decide to dissolve the board.

“We will seek the assistance of Parliament’s legal advisors for a way forward,” Kholwane said.

He said the committee had not been informed about the reasons for the mass resignations.

President Jacob Zuma accepted the resignations of six board members – Lumko Mtimde, John Danana, Cedric Gina, Desmond Golding, Cawe Mahlati and Noluthando Gosa – today.

The six resignations follow the shock departure of chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane and his deputy Thami ka Plaatjie, which Zuma also accepted.

Earlier this year, Dr Patricia Makhesha became the seventh board member to resign from the one appointed by Zuma in 2009. Felleng Sekha, Peter Harris, Barbara Masekela, Magathe Mello, Nkotomane Motsepe and David Niddrie also abandoned the troubled public broadcaster.

Kholwane warned that an interim board, which only has up to six months, may include the board members who resigned if they still meet the criteria set out in the Broadcasting Act.

He defended Ngubane’s board, saying it was probably a better board until the recent skirmishes.

“There has been an improvement since Ngubane’s board was appointed,” Kholwane said.

He promised that his committee would take a sensible decision today on the future of the remaining SABC board members.

“We’re concerned that there are only three board (non-executive) members,” Kholwane said.

Kholwane suggested that the country looks for international best practice on appointing members of a public broadcaster’s board.

“We must deal with the SABC holistically not piecemeal,” he said.

Despite the praise Kholwane heaped on Ngubane’s board, he admitted that the repayments for the R1 billion Nedbank loan were done at the cost of content acquisition and development.

Government gave the SABC a R1.47 billion guarantee for the Nedbank loan.

National Treasury expects the SABC to post a loss of over R616 million in the 2012/13 financial year, a step backwards from the R343 million profit in 2011/12.

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