Maguvhe's bid to halt SABC inquiry dismissed, court rules

2016-12-02 19:19
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - SABC board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe's bid to have Parliament's ad hoc committee interdicted from looking into the board was dismissed by the Western Cape High Court on Friday.

Judge Siraj Desai ruled that Maguvhe should pay the costs of the application. He would make his reasons known at a later stage.

Maguvhe's lawyer Thabani Masuku had asked Desai to grant an interdict halting the inquiry into the board. He wanted an "independent and impartial" inquiry set up, claiming opposition MPs were biased towards his client.

He took issue with DA MPs Phumzile van Damme and Mike Waters specifically. On October 5, they had said the SABC board was "politically compromised", dysfunctional, and should be dissolved.

Parliament's lawyer Denzil Potgieter earlier told the court it was perfectly okay for MPs to express strong views over the state of the SABC.

He said the ad hoc committee was "not a court of law". Its role was more of a "post box".

"This is purely an investigative process. There are no findings," he told Desai.

"They are simply collecting information, for which they prepare a report to present to the National Assembly."

MPs in court could be seen nodding their heads as he spoke.

Desai asked Potgieter if having one or two members who held strong, or allegedly prejudicial, views was not part of the political process.

Potgieter said Parliament would agree, and that van Damme's view was not prejudicial, but simply honest. He insisted there had to be an inquiry into the "national asset".

Potgieter claimed that a scenario delaying the disbanding of the board could potentially allow former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng to continue to run the broadcaster unofficially.

'Maguvhe is not the board'

Anton Katz, for the DA, said his clients' previous comments about the SABC board reflected what every "right thinking" South African would say following the public resignations of two of its members on October 5.

Katz quoted Van Damme as saying in an affidavit that if Maguvhe could prove that he was still able to discharge his duties, the party would approach the case with an open mind.

Maguvhe however had no right to act in his personal capacity, as the inquiry was looking into the board as a whole, and not him as an individual, Katz continued.

The National Assembly has the power to recommend the dissolution of the board if it fails in discharging its fiduciary duties.

"Parliament has given the ad hoc committee certain inquiry powers," Katz said.

"Your Lordship may think it is a good idea, bad idea, or average idea, but what your Lordship is not entitled to do is prescribe to the National Assembly how it may conduct its inquiry."

The case was therefore founded on a base that did not exist, he concluded.


Read more on:    sabc  |  mbulaheni ma­gu­vhe  |  media

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