Parly gets letter over SABC

2009-06-17 20:02

Johannesburg - The "Save our SABC" coalition wrote to Parliament on Wednesday calling for the dissolution of the SABC board as news broke of the resignation of the acting chairperson.

Ashwin Trikamjee, who was told last week by Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda that his tenure was not secure because he had not been appointed by the president as required by law, but by the remaining board members.

Trikamjee is the eighth member of the SABC's board to resign after reports of financial woes surfaced in April.

A letter written to Ismail Vadi, who headed the Parliamentary committee dealing with matters relating to the public broadcaster, read: "Parliament needs to implement the Broadcasting Act, 1999, as amended earlier this year by immediately investigating and removing the SABC Board."

The committee was due to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

Interim board in a few weeks

Speaking at the University of the Witwatersrand on Tuesday, Nyanda said an interim board could be in place "in a few weeks".

The coalition claimed political interference in the board and said that due to the resignations, it no longer had a quorum so could not take legally binding decisions.

"Given the situation outlined above Parliament is therefore in a strong position to remove the Board."

It said an interim board should have the requisite broadcasting, financial and corporate governance skills to stabilise affairs at the SABC and it must tighten financial controls and accountability to make sure the corporation meets its debts, particularly to staff and independent producers.

The interim board should only be in place for six months so the appointment of a new independent board should start immediately, the coalition said. They also wanted Parliament to hold in-depth public hearings into the crisis at the SABC, and recommended a commission of inquiry for this.

Lengthy legal row

The coalition's associates represented the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the Communications Workers Union, the Treatment Action Campaign, the Freedom of Expression Institute, Media Monitoring Africa, the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the National Community Radio Forum.

The current board had been embroiled in a lengthy legal row with the company's former CEO Dali Mpofu.

During its tenure, the SABC had not been able to pay a number of production houses and artists and had not resolved a dispute with unions over this year's wage increase.

Its acting CEO Gab Mampone said it would need just under R2bn to resolve its financial problems.