MPs have 'pre-judged' Maguvhe, High Court hears

2016-12-02 18:48
Mbulaheni Maguvhe. (SABC, YouTube)

Mbulaheni Maguvhe. (SABC, YouTube)

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Cape Town - Opposition MPs looking into the SABC board have shown bias towards its last remaining member, Mbulaheni Maguvhe, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.

Advocate Thabani Masuku, for Maguvhe, tried to convince Judge Siraj Desai that certain MPs on Parliament’s ad hoc committee were biased towards his client.

Maguvhe wants the court to grant an interdict halting the committee’s inquiry, and for it to be re-established with "independent" members. He wants Desai to determine how this will happen.

“An inquiry [into the board] is necessary. That is clear from a number of issues,” Masuku admitted.

“All that we're saying is that when that inquiry is being conducted, it must be capable of operating independently and impartially.”

He cited public comments made by DA MPs Phumzile van Damme and Mike Waters during the board's annual performance review on October 5.

Two board members, Krish Naidoo and Vuyo Mavuso resigned on the day after calling the board's presentation “embarrassing” and “amateurish”.

He said the MPs had claimed “before the fact” that the board was dysfunctional, should be dissolved and was politically compromised. They had pre-judged it, he said.

“After that board failed to exist?” Desai interjected and asked rhetorically.

'The board is non-existent'

Desai said they were dealing with political parties and they all had a point of view.

“It was inevitable they would have a view on the SABC crumbling. Do we take all of them out of the pot?”

Desai said the MPs’ assertions were that the SABC board was more than just dysfunctional. It was non-existent.

“When it reaches a stage of being inquorate, it’s ineffective,” said Desai.

He asked Masuku if he was trying to subvert Parliament's legal obligation of investigating a one-man board.

“If this committee is biased, then where will you find independent people?”

Desai said the inquiry had not been mandated to determine Maguvhe's guilt or innocence, but whether the SABC board was dysfunctional.

Bad eggs and bathwater

Ismail Jaime, for the SABC, said he agreed only partially with Masuku. He cited case law saying pre-judgment could not be allowed in a fair public hearing.

Jaime argued that Van Damme, in her affidavit, had already expressed a conclusion on a matter the ad hoc committee must still investigate.

He said “bad eggs” could persuade the “good eggs”. Desai battled him with mixed metaphors, calling the problem at the SABC an “elephant in the bath water”.

Jaime tried to argue that the SABC was entitled to withhold documents from the ad hoc committee if it was in its interests.

“No you're not,” Desai replied.

“The SABC is an asset of the public. The function of the corporation is to advance the interests of the national and public interest.

“Surely all of this is subordinate to the interests of the public?”

The court was still to hear from the DA's advocate Anton Katz and others.

Jaime said the SABC executive wanted to cross-examine Parliament's witnesses.

Read more on:    sabc  |  mbulaheni maguvhe  |  media

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