More SABC board members face the axe

2015-03-22 15:00

SABC board acting chairperson Obert Maguvhe has written letters to two board members, threatening to suspend them unless they can provide justification that they should not be.

City Press is in possession of letters written to board members Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi accusing them of, among other things, fraudulent conduct and lack of compliance with requirements of the Companies Act.

This follows the recent removal of board member Hope Zinde by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, after Zinde was accused of disclosing confidential board information at a workshop of ANC communicators.

But those close to Zinde said she was removed from the board for opposing a deal between the SABC and MultiChoice that allows the public broadcaster to air its 24-hour news channel on DStv.

MultiChoice will pay the SABC R100?million per annum, escalating at 5% for five years and get exclusive rights to its archive as part of the deal.

Maguvhe wrote two letters to Lubisi, one dated March 2 and a subsequent one on March 11, in which Lubisi is accused of being in breach of requirements of the Companies Act.

In the subsequent letter, Maguvhe informed Lubisi that because he had failed to respond to allegations levelled at him, the board would recommend – to the communications minister – that he be removed as a member of its audit committee.

“The governance and nominations committee met on March 9 to consider the allegations raised in my letters to you .. .and resolved that approval be, and is hereby requested, [for] the board to recommend that the minister approves [your removal] as a member of the audit committee with immediate effect.”

Lubisi refused to comment when contacted yesterday.

Maguvhe has also written numerous letters to Kalidass accusing her of fraudulent conduct and informing her of his intention to institute an inquiry into her conduct.

In a letter dated February 4, Maguvhe accused Kalidass of having lied about travelling to the airport to catch a flight to Nelspruit, which she used as a reason for leaving a January 29 board meeting early.

“You left the meeting at 1.30?pm informing the chairperson that you had moved your flight to an earlier time. According to the attached transfer confirmation, you were transported to Morningside and not to the airport as you [had] informed the chairperson; and only went back to Nelspruit on January 31 2015.”

Kalidass is said to have responded by threatening to report Maguvhe to Parliament and President Jacob Zuma. Sources close to Kalidass believe that the move to suspend her is malicious.

The letters are a precursor to the planned suspension of the two board members. But a recent board meeting, where the matter was supposed to be discussed, could not proceed after Zinde was removed, and Kalidass and Lubisi walked out.

The question of the authority to remove board members came to a head in Parliament this week.

Muthambi insisted that, in terms of the amended memorandum of incorporation, she now relied on the Companies Act, which gave her power to remove board members.

But the Broadcasting Act requires that the communications portfolio committee be the one that institutes an inquiry against board members.

Zinde, who declined to comment further, issued a statement last week insisting that she was still a board member and had been removed illegally.

Parliament is now taking legal advice on the matter.

Maguvhe also refused to comment when contacted yesterday, saying: “I won’t discuss matters that haven’t been discussed by the board yet.”

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