SABC board: Who will make the cut?

2013-08-20 12:11

Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications today begins the week-long process of interviewing the 37 candidates short-listed for a position on the permanent nonexecutive board of the SABC.

The morning session began with news that Clare O’Neil has withdrawn her candidacy.

A former member of the board, she was experienced and trusted.

The interviews are being conducted up against the clock as the current interim board’s six-month mandate expires in September.

The 12 successful candidates face a considerable challenge. A position on the board can be politically fraught and dogged by in-fighting.

The previous board – chaired by Dr Ben Ngubane – crumbled in the face of mass resignations, accusations of poor governance, and controversy over the firing and rehiring of SABC acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The new board is crucial, say industry analysts, as the SABC must get itself back in the black and steady the ship as it heads into a new era, with the crossover to digital broadcasting.

The 37 short-listed candidates were selected off a list of 147 nominations from political parties, the public and the creative industries.

Today’s interviews are: Zola Majavu, Amanda Madikiza, Darkey Ephraim Africa, Kate Skinner, Hope Zinde and Lazarus Serobe.

City Press and the SOS Coalition, a civil society body fighting for a strong public broadcaster, will be profiling each of the 37 candidates, live tweeting their interviews and summarising them afterwards.

» Disclaimer: One of the short-listed candidates, Kate Skinner, founded SOS Coalition and remains a member.

Day 1

Zola Majavu

The first candidate to be interviewed for a position on the SABC board is no stranger to controversy. Sports administrator Zola Majavu is an attorney of the high court and a notary who specialises in sports law through his company Majavu Inc.

He is, however, best known for his dramatic stint as administrator of Athletics SA (ASA). Having resigned from the position, he now faces criminal charges laid against him by ASA president James Evans.

For years Majavu has worked as legal adviser to the Premier Soccer League. He has also served in the International Dispute Resolution Chamber of Fifa.

Majavu began practising in 1995 and has taught law for many years at Wits university. He serves on numerous boards, including those of the Gauteng Liquor Board and Metrobus.

He has been presiding adjudicator in the Gauteng Housing Bureau as well as headed a commission of inquiry investigating the finances of the Krugersdorp Local Council in 1997. In 2005 he registered for training as a judge.

Amanda Madikiza

Amanda Madikiza is one of several PR, marketing and communications specialists on the short list for the board. She studied at the University of Cape Town and began working in corporate marketing departments – for Unilever, Engen and then Sanlam.

She began working for the City of Cape Town in 2002 and rose to the position of director of communications and marketing at just 31 years of age. In 2004 she was a finalist in a national boss of the year competition. She left the position five years ago to enter the ministry.

Madikiza preaches at Christ Embassy Church in Nyanga.

Darkey Ephraim Africa

A long-serving MEC in the North West government, Darkey Ephraim Africa has managerial, union and community development experience. An anti-apartheid activist, he began serving in local and then provincial government after the first democratic elections in 1994.

Africa is a former MEC for economic development and tourism in the North West. He began his political career as a union organiser. He was a director of the UDF in the Northern Cape, an ANC deputy secretary in the Northern Cape as well as vice-president of Sanco.

Having completed various courses in local government management, he obtained his Master of Arts degree at the University of the Free State in 2004.

Kate Skinner

Kate Skinner is not shy to be a vocal critic of the SABC. In 2008 she founded the civil society coalition SOS: Support Public Broadcasting (originally the Save our SABC coalition) in a bid to work with SABC to ensure quality public broadcasting.

Skinner is the only civil society activist on the short list. She has been involved in media, advocacy and development issues since 1994, when she headed the communications department for the SA Democratic Teachers Union and launched the publication the Educator’s Voice.

In 1998 she headed the communications department of the Mvula Trust, the rural water and sanitation NGO. She has worked for a number of independent TV production houses, including Kagiso Education Television. Skinner has been a long-term board member of the Freedom of Expression Institute.

In 2012 she was elected to the national working group of the Right2Know Campaign and was also nominated as a Unesco World Press Freedom Day fellow. At present Skinner is working as a broadcasting researcher and policy analyst.

She is pursuing her PhD degree focusing on public broadcasting, media diversity and digital broadcasting issues.

Hope Zinde

Another communications and PR expert on the short list, Hope M Zinde started her career in media in 1991 as a newsreader, writer and producer for a range of current affairs programmes on and off the SABC.

She is known in the broadcasting sector for her work as an executive producer and anchor for SABC Africa in shows that include 180 Degrees.

Today Zinde heads her own firm, Hope Zinde Communications, which has performed various special advisory functions for a range of corporations and public institutions including Coca-Cola SA, the Independent Electoral Commission and the University of South Africa, as well as a number of provincial and national departments. Zinde currently also serves as a nonexecutive director for Pan African Capital Holdings.

Lazarus Serobe

Now a music publisher, management consultant and advocate, Lazarus “Lazzy” Serobe was one of a handful of black executives who helped transform the South African recording industry.

He was CEO at Sony until 2005 and at Gallo from 2008 until 2010. Born and schooled in Soweto, he studied law at Wits university. He joined Sony as legal and business affairs director when the company was launched in South Africa in 1995.

In 2004 he launched Heita Records, a joint venture with Sony, who later bought him out. Heita was a success from the get-go, launching bands such as Malaika and housing songstress Sibongile Khumalo. When he took over at Sony he brought South African house and kwaito artists into the corporate fold.

They would later strike out as independents as the urban music scene evolved. Given the strength of SABC’s radio empire and the fraught situation around music rights on television, Serobe’s technical copyright and publishing knowledge could be sorely needed.

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