Lumko Mtimde falls off SABC board shortlist

2015-03-24 17:20

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The name of an ANC-favoured candidate to fill a vacancy left by Ellen Tshabalala in the SABC board was withdrawn at the 11th hour because he had failed to submit proof of his listed qualifications.

Former Media Development and Diversity Agency boss Lumko Mtimde, who also served on the SABC board between 2011 and 2013, could not be shortlisted because  he couldn’t provide evidence for his qualifications.

Mtimde was one of six candidates who were picked from 96 applications by Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications to go through to the interview stage of the application process.

Three out of four ANC MPs in the committee had motivated for him, citing his experience in the field, especially after DA MP Gavin Davis objected to Mtimde’s name because he was a proponent of the controversial  media appeals tribunal, which was proposed by the ANC in about 2010.

“My concern is that this candidate is on the record as saying he supports a media tribunal in South Africa. I don’t believe that somebody who supports a media tribunal is somebody who you could characterise as committed to freedom of expression,” he said.

He added: “I don’t believe that somebody who wants the state to regulate what journalists say is somebody you could say is committed to freedom of expression or the right of the public to be informed.”

Davis quoted the Broadcasting Act, which says that members of the SABC board “must when viewed collectively be persons who are committed to fairness, freedom of expression, right of the public to be informed, openness and accountability on the part of those holding public office”.

But ANC MPs jumped to Mtimde’s defence, citing his experience in the media industry and praising his impressive CV.

Committee chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa said: “I have seen in the past, the candidate at work and I think he’s a very committed person who goes all out when he is given a task. He really works very well.

“He has knowledge in this area because he worked in this sector. It also goes back to participating in the SABC at the time and if one thinks back, the SABC during those times was a completely different, credible institution at the time, and that’s what we are longing for when we talk about the SABC,” she said.

“We do really miss that SABC where board members were focused to deal with the task of the board,” added Moloi-Moropa.

But Mtimde was a member of one of the most dysfunctional SABC boards, which was eventually disbanded by Parliament in March 2013.

Alongside five other board members, who were all aligned to or were members of the ANC, Mtimde resigned from the structure just days before the board was disbanded.

This was after then minister of communications Dina Pule reinstated Hlaudi Motsoeneng as acting chief operating officer, days after the board removed him from the position.

Mtimde raised eyebrows when he mooted the controversial media appeals tribunal in a column published on the ANC’s website in 2010.

Today, after about 10 minutes of ANC MPs motivating for him, Moloi-Moropa revealed that the candidate had failed to submit the required proof of his academic qualifications.

A further 30 minutes of “checking” went by before Moloi-Moropa announced that Mtimde would “fall off” the list due to failure to submit the documentation.

The five candidates who will be interviewed on April 2 are Jennifer Irish-Qhobosheane, Keabetswe Modimoeng, Ashwin Trikamjee, Ntombizandile Lesame and Saskia Hickey.

Mtimde said he understood that the process of nomination was not like the process of applying for a job. "The person who nominates you should supply the documents to Parliament and not the nominee," he said.

Mtimde said he had been nominated to serve in several boards before and each time, the people who do the nomination would be the ones who submit the proof of qualifications to the parliamentary committees.

"There is nothing new to the process, you get nominated by organisations, people (individuals) and in this case, there were so many people who called me to send them my documents, which I did. They are the ones who submit the documents to Parliament."

Mtimde said he didn't know what happened or why his documents were not submitted to Parliament, and would not cast doubt on anyone.

Among the people who applied for the board membership were two interns and a frozen yoghurt store assistant.

Lufuno Limela (23) is an intern at Ikwekwezi FM, which is one of the SABC radio stations. Limela listed public relations management and a matric under qualifications. The SABC board membership wouldn’t be his first — he is a board member at Corobrik, TSA Foundation and at the South African Telecommunication Regulatory Authority.

Ntombizandile Bokwana (30) is another intern who fancies herself in the leadership of the public broadcaster. Bokwana holds a national diploma in journalism and is doing an internship at the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs as a communications officer.

Sheldan Masemola (22) is a store assistant at Wakaberry frozen yoghurt bar in Rosebank, Joburg. He too applied for board membership but his application was not considered.

  • Mtimde has complained that the initial version of the story likening him to  Ellen Tshabalala created an impression that he doesn't have the qualifications. City Press didn't mean to cast aspersions but we apologise for any impression created about his perceived lack of qualifications. This story has been updated since its first publication.

Communications Committee Sets Record Straight

Statement by Lumko Mtimde on Damaging Media Reports Regarding

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