MPs inch toward final recommendations for interim SABC board

2017-01-21 10:02
SABC office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SABC office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - MPs on the SABC inquiry ad hoc committee trawled through clause after clause on Friday to plot the committee's final report, which will include official recommendations toward setting up a new, interim SABC board.

Party politics showed its face for the first time during the proceedings this week as MPs debated for and against their preferred viewpoints in what has been a tedious two days of meticulous work.

Among the suggestions made by MPs on Friday was the setting up of an interim board, launching a full forensic audit into all irregular and wasteful expenditure, and implementing all outstanding court orders against the SABC.

The role of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi was also a point of contention.

The committee agreed to extend its working period by a week, giving it more time from Tuesday to Friday next week to argue the merits of "the most important part of our work".

The committee aims to adopt a final draft report on Friday, January 28.

READ: SABC board failed financially, legally, morally - MPs

Other suggestions included that:

  1. MPs argued over whether or not to include the recommendation that board members should have no political affiliations. A consensus was made to follow the existing law. The interim board should also be inducted and informed of their duties in line with the Company's Act.
  2. The interim SABC board must implement a forensic audit into all irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure by a reputable company, taking into consideration the Auditor General's report, the Public Protector's report and Icasa regulation. Specific bonuses and contracts should be scrutinised as well.
  3. Steps should be taken to recover all money relating to these incidents and criminal charges should be laid against individuals guilty of violating the Company's Act.
  4. The board must ensure that all HR policies are complied with in senior executive appointments, with reference to all applicable legislation, such as the Public Finance Management Act, the Broadcasting Act and others.
  5. The new interim board must ensure all court and other legally-binding orders, such as the Public Protector's 2014 report, are adhered to.
  6. A new company secretary must fulfil all duties in aiding an interim board according the existing legislation.

ANC MP Juli Kilian suggested a 90-day time period for the interim board to be set up, while others felt the process should not be rushed.

ANC MP Jabu Mahlangu also suggested that all executive appointments made after the memorandum of incorporation was changed should be annulled. These were appointments made by the chief executives, thanks to the amendment, instead of the board.

'Muthambi should be fired'

MPs also discussed recommendations around the "shareholder" of the SABC, which is currently Minister Muthambi.

Opposition MPs were very critical of Muthambi's role in the dissolution of the current board.

EFF MP Fana Mokoena suggested that the report recommend to President Jacob Zuma that Muthambi be fired for her role at the SABC since 2014.

Both Mokoena and DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the amendments she made to the memorandum of incorporation should be reversed, and Muthambi's current wish to amend the Broadcasting Act this year should be examined by Parliament.

ANC MP Hlomane Chauke tried to check talk of Muthambi's proposed dismissal, and suggested that the committee should craft a more watertight suggestion regarding the role of the minister to send to the president.

He was supported by fellow ANC member Kilian, although Kilian felt that Muthambi's suggested amendments to the Broadcasting Act should not be expedited, and that Parliament needs to look at the amendments closely.

MPs were unanimous that the Broadcasting Act needs to trump the Company's Act, they said.

Deadline

DA MP Mike Waters said the committee should write to Parliament's ethics committee to report Muthambi's conduct as a sworn-in MP.

He also suggested that criminal charges be laid against her with regards to her alleged breach of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act of Parliament.

He was supported by the ACDP's Steve Swart who said the buck stops with the minister, and "she must be held accountable".

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith was keen to stress that all suggestions made this week were just that, and would only hold legal weight once accepted by the National Assembly in late February.

The committee will send its final report to the SABC and affected parties on January 28.

It will expect rebuttal and response from the SABC by February 16, which will be added to the report for consolidation by February 21.

The National Assembly has until February 28 to adopt a final report.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  sabc  |  parliament 2017  |  media

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