SABC to get interim board

2009-06-16 18:14

Johannesburg - An interim board for the SABC could be established within a week, Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said on Tuesday.

"...That interim board, we hope to have in place in a few weeks, hopefully in two weeks, a week," said Nyanda at a debate on the future of public broadcasting at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

"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."

Seven members of the board have recently resigned after reports of the SABC's financial woes surfaced in April - the SABC is seeking a R2bn bail-out from the government.

Nyanda said public participation would then take place during the process of appointing a new permanent board.

"We must build a public broadcaster that is the pride of the country," he said.

"We may have had the best design before we stumbled and found ourselves where we are, but it is our responsibility to pick ourselves up and march forward," Nyanda added.

No short-term law change

Public broadcasting legislation would not be changed in the short-term.

"People talk about... the need to revisit policy on public broadcasting. I welcome these suggestions, but we have immediate things we have to attend to.

"At the current moment we operate according to the law... Even with deficiencies, we have come to realise it is still incumbent... to work according to existing legislation."

For example, he said, the Ministry was mindful of the "desperation" of people like independent producers who had not bee paid by the SABC.

"These are things that need to be attended to as soon as possible."

Nyanda said at the moment the current board still existed and held responsibility for the running of the SABC.

In terms of management, the board bore responsibility "for how the SABC ran the finances down".

SABC needs help

Mentioning the possibility of a task team, Nyanda said "outside intervention" would be needed to sort out the state of finances at the public broadcaster.

He said representatives from the Treasury, the Communications Department and other experts could possibly come together to "try and interrogate and find out [if] what the SABC says it is capable of doing, it can do".

"The SABC needs to be helped."

Nyanda said an interim board would have to look at the funding model for the SABC.

Nyanda said even with just a cursory glance at the situation, it seemed clear: "I think the SABC will need help from government," he said.