Ellen won’t answer

2014-10-15 00:00

CAPE TOWN — “I won’t say yes or no. Please, don’t subject me to this.”

That was the response of SABC board chair Ellen Tshabalala yesterday when journalists asked if she did have a BCom degree and diploma in labour relations from Unisa.

The questions came after she got her way with the postponement of Parliament’s communications portfolio committee hearing. The committee is investigating whether she lied about her qualifications after it emerged in June that Unisa has no record of them.

Tshabalala arrived at the hearing at the Cape Lodge Hotel accompanied by a senior lawyer, advocate Norman Arendse SC.

Arendse asked for the postponement because he had not had time to prepare as Tshabalala only received the charge sheet on Friday and they had not been aware witnesses — the committee clerk and a representative of Unisa — would be called.

Committee members insisted that Tshabalala had had plenty of time to prepare. The sitting was supposed to have taken place on September 25, but was postponed to give her more time to prepare.

She was informed of the probe on July 30 and given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Her answer, that her qualifications disappeared in 2001, did not satisfy the committee.

For the committee, the issue is simple: she has to prove that she has the qualifications.

A statement issued shortly after the postponement indicated that they were “not very impressed” with Tshabalala’s request for a delay.

That much was also clear in the sitting.

ANC MP Maesela Kekana said: “The country should know we are talking here about qualifications that she lost 13 years ago. She never before brought this to light.”

The DA’s Gavin Davis, who demanded the investigation three months ago, said it had already been postponed once, and the use of a legal representative was not required.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi resorted to colourful language: “Mrs Tshabalala is making us into clowns. She’s making Parliament into a merry-go-round.”

Tshabalala declined to say after the hearing whether she does indeed have the qualifications while she is still busy trying to get records from Unisa.

During the hearing, committee chair Joyce Moloi-Moropa said they should be congratulated for getting Unisa director of legal affairs Jan van Wyk to appear, because Tshabalala had not yet been able to get answers from the university.

Tshabalala also said there were material differences between the charge sheet she received on Friday and the one she saw yesterday, and therefore she needed legal advice.

“How would I have been able to fabricate my qualifications?” she said.

The hearing was postponed until next week, at a date to be announced later.

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