SABC chaos

2008-06-07 00:00

AS the Freedom of Expression Institute has noted, the SABC has been “lurching from one scandal to another”. The latest to brew up has culminated in the open revolt of the national broadcaster’s executive, which is demanding that the SABC board step down because it “does not have the moral authority to lead” the organisation.

Certainly the board, appointed last December, has lacked appropriate leadership qualities throughout its tenure, displaying a penchant for party-politicking and petty vindictiveness. Early in May, a day after group chief executive officer Dali Mpofu had suspended news and current affairs executive Snuki Zikalala, Mpofu himself was suspended by the board. The board contested Mpofu’s reinstatement in court and lost: a waste of time and public money, and one cannot help agreeing with Independent Democrat leader Patricia de Lille that the board members should be held personally liable for the costs incurred.

The confusion and unpleasantness are compounded by letters written by board chairwoman Khanyisile Mkhonza, one calling on management and staff members to ignore the court ruling and a second, to Mpofu, barring him from entering the SABC premises. Such conduct on the part of a board of governors undermines the already shaky credibility of the SABC and, if it persists, the only way to save the day will be for the board members to have the sense to leave before further damage is done. Will they do so? Judging by their brazen behaviour so far the answer has to be “no”. Will Thabo Mbeki, who appointed them, step in, reprimand them and strip them of their posts before selecting a more suitable panel? Should we hold our breath as we wait and see?

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