SABC posts: Muthambi, Motsoeneng in firing line

2014-11-06 06:00

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng may be hauled to court for what has been described as the unlawful appointment of three executive directors at the public broadcaster.

This comes after an application against the SABC, Muthambi and Motsoeneng was filed at the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

The application, which challenges the process followed in the appointment of the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Group Chief Operations Officer (GCOO) and Group Chief Financial Officer (GCFO), was lodged by the Support Public Broadcasting Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI).

In the court papers, the three organisations question the extent of Muthambi’s powers as the appointing authority for the SABC executives.

They say this is wrong as the authority should solely lie in the independent board appointed through a public process.

In a statement released yesterday, the three concerned parties explained that the substance of their application speaks to the independence of the public broadcaster.

“In the context of the protracted contestations over the free and independent media, and the SABC in particular, it raises the question whether the SABC can truly operate as an independent public broadcaster if the Minister of Communications carries the exclusive authority to determine who should or should not be appointed as an executive director of the SABC,” they said.

“Section 16 of our Constitution underscores the importance of a free and independent media in our constitutional democracy. Further, and in terms of the Broadcasting Act, the SABC is defined as a public broadcaster – a public institution that plays an integral role in dissemination of information and facilitating the full realisation of the constitutional democracy we negotiated in 1992.

“When the executive arm of government, in the Minister of Communications, appoints the executive directors of our public broadcaster, that independence is eroded and, even, lost. It means that the State, through the government of the day, has the ability to improperly and unduly influence and control the daily operations of the SABC.

“It means that we cannot rest assured that our SABC is independent, credible and accountable to us, its public,” the organisations added.

The North Gauteng High Court is yet to set a date for when the matter will be heard.

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