SABC chair appointment ‘illegal’

2009-06-10 16:00

Johannesburg - Parliament's communications chairperson Ishmael Vadi says the appointment of Ashwin Trikamjee as interim chairperson of the SABC was unlawful, the broadcaster reported on Wednesday.

This comes after the board appointed Trikamjee following the resignation of its board chairperson Khanyi Mkhonza last Thursday.

Only President Jacob Zuma can appoint the interim board chairperson, Vadi said.

Vadi said after seeking legal opinion from Parliament's legal unit, it was found the board did not have the right to appoint any person as chairperson.

"The Broadcasting Act is absolutely clear... it is the prerogative of the president of the Republic of South Africa to appoint the chairperson and deputy chairperson," he said.

Dysfunctional board

Vadi said technically the board was dysfunctional as it did not have a chairperson or deputy.

This, he said, meant the SABC was currently running without a board.

Meanwhile, the SA Communist Party (SACP) has called for the immediate resignation of the board, saying the members were incompetent and incapable of running a public institution.

"It is time for the SABC board to resign or face consequences. The SACP notes that the nine remaining members of the SABC board are resisting efforts by South Africa’s public representatives to allow them a dignified exit rather than facing dismissal.

"We recall that the board was appointed under controversial circumstances in the hours after the democratic reassertion by members of the African National Congress at Polokwane.

"The current board was thus born with an indelible stain on its legitimacy and on its ability to represent the interests of all South Africans rather than the middle and capitalists classes from which its members are drawn," the party said in a statement.

Financial crisis

It said the board had not only plunged the public broadcaster into a financial crisis, but had also advanced their "personal political agendas" using the news bulletins.

"In just 18 months, they have taken the SABC from modest profitability to financial crisis... with R2bn blown and a further R200m disappearing every month.

"Their sudden concern for their fiduciary responsibility smacks of opportunism and self-interest... the same opportunism and self-interest which allowed them to accept the improper interference in Parliamentary process through which they were appointed.

"They have demonstrated that they are neither competent to oversee a public institution, nor able to recognise and act in the public interest.