It appears that the new Minister of Communication, want to exert more power within the ambit of the SABC – a possible first step in establishing an ANC propaganda machine for sure.
Faith Muthambi’s plans are reminiscent to the old Department of Information under the infamous drrs. Eschel Rhoodie and Connie Mulder in the National Party era pre 1994. Their aims were to convey government’s message in a specific ideological fashion promoting National Party policy as being the right policy for the country at the time.
The Minister also wants to limit the powers of parliament in the administration of the SABC. This would therefore give her absolute power over the SABC Board Members, where she would be able to hire and fire at a whiff without parliamentary consensus and or approval, where the current Board Members can only be removed from office after a parliamentary portfolio committee on communication had investigated the reasons to act accordingly, and it then confirmed as relevant by the National Assembly as detailed in the Broadcast Act of 2009.
Muthambi also envisages reducing the Board from 12 to 5 members; she claims rightfully that the current Board is cumbersome, too big and too expensive. To this she needs credit.
Her portfolio as Minister of Communication is as a consequence to President Jacob Zuma’s fifth administration, which in his reshuffle would control the SABC, the Independent Communications Commission of South Africa and all other government communication.
To call the new department propaganda administration is not farfetched – this is the first step in that direction, as the central control of the SABC would be vested in the office of the Minister.
This transformation would change the public broadcaster into a party broadcaster. And with the Minister having authority over the appointment and or termination of Board Members, it would be held captive by the ruling party.
A smaller board would also make it easier for the Minister to control.
It is as clear as daylight that President Jacob Zuma has embarked on a process to establish a propaganda administration that would want to ‘enforce the good news about South Africa’ on the citizens of this country, as a sign of his positive legacy.
Changes like this envisaged would give the ruling part exclusive powers over the SABC. The political control over the SABC as it stands at the moment is already too significant to consider it as a public broadcaster.
The old Nat party governance modus operandi which was so highly criticized seems to be gaining momentum as and how our democracy ages – a policy vehemently criticized, yet now surfacing in as’ mutton dressed up as lamb’ by the ANC. The right to information and freedom of speech as entrenched in the Constitution of our Country becoming sacrificial lambs at the altar.