Another SABC board resignation

2009-06-17 15:28

Cape Town - Ashwin Trikamjee, who was the acting board chairperson of the SABC, resigned on Wednesday, the ministry of communications said.

"I can confirm that the minister has received and accepted a letter of resignation from Mr Trikamjee," spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso said.

Rikhotso said the ministry had "issues" with Trikamjee being viewed as the chairperson of the board.

"Legally the board of the SABC has no power at the moment to make any decision on the appointment of a chairman," he said.

SABC news reported earlier that the corporation's "acting chairman" had resigned.

Trikamjee, a Durban-based attorney, is the eighth member of the SABC's board to resign after reports of financial woes surfaced in April. The public broadcaster is currently seeking a R2bn bail-out from the government.

Parly summons board members

SABC board members had been summonsed to Parliament on Thursday afternoon to explain "the meltdown" at the corporation.

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications heard on Wednesday that the SABC board was unable to make decisions or to function legally.

"The board does not have a quorum so legally it cannot function," ANC MP Johnny de Lange told the committee.

"There had been a corporate governance meltdown at the SABC. No procedure has been set out for us."

De Lange said the SABC's board would have to answer questions from the committee in terms of section 15(a) of the Broadcasting Act.

"It will take two to three months to choose a board. What do we do in the meantime?"

De Lange suggested that a five-member interim board be appointed for six months to "give us some stability".

"Once we have an interim board we can deal with issues like payments," he said.

Three month period

Board members of the SABC, including the former chairperson Christine Qunta who resigned in April, technically remained members of the board for three months after their resignations.

Committee chairperson Ismail Vadi said it was up to the committee to take "swift action" to prevent the SABC from moving into a deeper crisis.

"We are all aware of the gravity of the situation," he said.

"We will have to get the best possible skills available to get the SABC out of its problems.

"There is a very grave responsibility on our shoulders to give decisive leadership."

Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said on Tuesday that an interim board for the SABC could be established within a week.

"As we face this crisis, we are looking upon parliamentary process to help pass a motion that will dissolve the current board... the president will then appoint an interim board," Nyanda said.