Good governance non-negotiable, says Dlodlo

Cape Town - "Good governance is absolutely essential and is non-negotiable."

These were the words of Ayanda Dlodlo, when she presented her first budget as minister of communications to Parliament on Friday.

Shortly before she took over this portfolio, after President Jacob Zuma's dramatic late night Cabinet reshuffle, Parliament adopted the report of the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board.

This report highlighted several grave governance failures at the public broadcaster and made damning findings against Dlodlo's predecessor, Faith Muthambi.

This followed a 2014 report by former public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, titled When governance and ethics fail, which had a litany of findings against former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, whose permanent appointment as COO was approved by Muthambi.

Stable corporate governance

On Friday morning, Dlodlo said the SABC is the largest and most influential broadcaster in the country.

"Nearly 28 million radio listeners in South Africa tune into one of the SABC's 18 radio stations and the SABC's three free to air television channels attract more than 21 million adult viewers each day," she said.

"In some areas in South Africa, the SABC is the only source of news and information and in many others, the only media to accommodate communities' home languages. As such, it plays an important role in people's lives."

She said the department intended finalising its work on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill during the current financial year "in order to develop and implement a stable corporate governance model on the long-term stability and sustainability of the SABC".

"We are committed to a strong, independent and relevant public broadcaster, which is accountable and performs optimally."

She also acknowledged the work done by SABC staff.

"These are dedicated media professionals who continue to work night and day to ensure that the SABC continues to educate, inform and entertain South Africans in all official languages.

"We will ensure that the SABC platforms continue to drive meaningful content that touches the lives of ordinary people daily and assist them to make informed decisions."

Unnecessary pay-outs

African National Congress MP and chairperson of the portfolio committee on communications, Humphrey Maxegwana, said some of the department's entities, especially the SABC dominated the news "for all the wrong reasons", which eroded public's trust.

Maxegwana said Parliament failed to ensure adequate funding for the SABC.

He said unnecessary pay-outs must be stopped, and staff retained.

"The staff morale is so low and we need to do something," he said.

Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme said she wanted Dlodlo to succeed in this portfolio.

"And in particular, chairperson, we want her to succeed in restoring good governance and public and industry confidence in her department, something that was completely destroyed by her predecessor, Faith Muthambi," said Van Damme.

"It is a tragedy, that Muthambi has not been held accountable for a tenure that was nothing short of catastrophic, especially for the SABC."

Van Damme said the 60-day deadline for the laying of criminal charges as set in the ad hoc committee's report expires on June, 5.

"It was a recommendation in this report, adopted by most parties in the National Assembly, including the ANC, for Parliament to lay criminal charges against persons who misled or provided false information during the inquiry.

"Minister Muthambi was indeed one of those people who misled the inquiry and as such, must be held accountable in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act and the Executive Ethics Code."

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liezl van der Merwe also said Muthambi should be held accountable, as well as Motsoeneng.

Muthambi indicated earlier that she would take the ad hoc committee's report on judicial review.

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