ANC ignores legal opinion on SABC board

Cape Town – The ANC on Tuesday prevented a DA MP from discussing a legal opinion that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi did not adhere to the law regarding the SABC board, Netwerk 24 reported.

The sub-committee of Parliament’s communications portfolio met to discuss the shortlist for three vacancies on the SABC’s board.

In an about-turn on their position last week, ANC MPs said the posts had to be re-advertised because there were not enough suitable candidates among the 121 applicants.

When DA MP Gavin Davis suggested this last week, ANC MPs said the sub-committee should meet again this week and see if it could come up with a shortlist. Failing this, it should consider re-advertising the posts. It was unclear what led to the about-turn.

After the sub-committee met last week, the full committee received a legal opinion that Muthambi did not adhere to the law when her interference with the SABC board led to the resignation of three of its members - Ronnie Lubisi, Rachel Kalidass, and Hope Zinde.

The committee was currently trying to fill the positions left vacant when board members Thembinkosi Bonakele and Bongani Khumalo resigned.

When Davis said the legal opinion had to be considered because potential candidates might be put off by the threat of being summarily fired, the committee’s acting chairperson Dikeledi Tsotetsi silenced him.

When Davis tried to continue, ANC MP Moses Tseli shouted “Order! Order! Order!”, saying that Davis was trying to start a discussion that was not on the agenda.

'Legal opinion irrelevant'

Tsotetsi said the legal opinion was irrelevant. Davis countered that it had a material impact on the committee’s work.

Tsotetsi said drafting the shortlist was on the agenda and that it was intended to be a short meeting.

Tseli said if Davis tried to continue, Tsotetsi had a right to stop him.

Davis said the committee was scheduled to meet until 11:30. At that stage it was shortly before 11:00. He said the legal opinion was necessary for the committee to fill the vacant SABC board positions.

Tsotetsi said the legal opinion had been considered in a previous meeting.

When Davis asked him if he was trying to censor him, Tsotetsi said no, and that Davis was deviating from the agenda. Ultimately Tsotetsi said he noted Davis’s point and adjourned the meeting.

After the meeting, Davis said he would ask committee chairperson, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, to ask that it deal with the legal opinion before re-advertising the positions.

Earlier, Tsotetsi and Tseli criticised a Sunday Times report indicating that one of the applicants had a qualification in bricklaying. The newspaper also reported that he had a BA degree.

Tseli said the fact that applicants’ CVs were being reported on should be seen in a very serious light. Davis countered that there was nothing wrong with the public and media scrutinising candidates.

Davis read from the Broadcasting Act, which indicated that the process of appointing board candidates had to be open and transparent.

Tsotetsi said the media was abusing its freedom. Earlier this year, Muthambi indicated that the committee needed to examine regulations for print media.

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