‘Fill SABC board posts urgently’

2010-10-19 14:59

The posts of those who resigned from the SABC’s board must be advertised as a matter of urgency, the Democratic Alliance has said.

“The resignations have effectively paralysed the board and rendered it incapable of making decisions that affect the operation of the public broadcaster,” DA spokesperson Niekie van den Berg said.

He said it was essential that a full complement of the board was in office to ensure that the SABC was able to meet the obligations of the R1 billion guarantee from the national treasury and provide quality programming to the public.

He added that the public deserved a full explanation for each resignation.

“It is important that these reasons be made known, particularly in view of the concerns raised by the board in a memorandum sent to the minister of communications in June.”

The memorandum indicated they were being circumvented by board chairperson Ben Ngubane and suspended group chief executive Solly Mokoetle in performing their duties, particularly with regard to the appointment of the head of news.

Should it be confirmed that the resignations were a result of Ngubane’s “bullying” and Mokoetle’s “unlawful interference in the affairs of the board”, Ngubane and Mokoetle should be held to account.

The SABC was plagued by crisis after crisis in the past number of years, which had undoubtedly contributed to the financial predicament that resulted in losses of R910 million and a R1 billion bailout from the treasury at the end of last year.

“Unless good governance is restored, the SABC runs the risk of exacerbating its financial woes,” he said.

The DA would ensure that, once applications and nominations were received for new board members, experienced, non-partisan and qualified people were appointed.

It was of particular importance that non-partisan people sat on the SABC board, because the crises affecting the SABC were a “direct result of the ANC’s drive to control the public broadcaster through cadre deployment”.

The SABC was accountable to the public by virtue of the payment of mandatory public licence fees, and not to the ANC.

“The DA will ensure that the people appointed adhere to their mandate to further the interests of the public as a whole, and not only those of the ANC,” Van den Berg said.

Yesterday, the presidency announced that president Jacob Zuma had received and accepted the resignation of four members of the board.

Zuma is the board’s “appointing body” in terms of the Broadcasting Act.

The resignations received by the presidency from the communications ministry were those of board deputy chairperson Felleng Sekha, and members Barbara Masekela, David Niddrie, and Makgatho Mello.

Last week, Business Day reported that Masekela, former ambassador to France and prominent member of the ANC, was the first to resign, followed by Mello, Sekha and Niddrie.

The newspaper quoted a “senior SABC official” as having said the board was frustrated with the government’s inaction on the SABC’s woes.

The board felt isolated, because first the communications department and then Parliament’s communications committee failed to intervene, despite the board on May 22 announcing a breakdown of trust with Ngubane.

The breakdown was over Ngubane’s move to appoint Phil Molefe as head of news while the board was reviewing candidates, it said.

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