Last 3 board chairpersons 'a disaster' - former SABC risk chief

Cape Town - A former SABC group executive for risk and governance says the last three board chairpersons have been a disaster for the public broadcaster.

Itani Tseisi, who left the broadcaster in October this year, told Parliament's ad hoc committee looking onto the fitness of the SABC board that Mbulaheni Maguvhe, Ellen Tshabalala and Ben Ngubane's tenures had paled in comparison to previous chairpersons.

"The last three chairpersons of the board, I don't know how to describe them... disaster, I think it is," he said in response to African National Congress MP Hlomane Chauke.

He said he had the privilege of joining the SABC when Vincent Maphai was chairperson between 1999 and 2003.

"You compare then to now, it's sad. It's absolutely sad."

In response to ANC MP Juli Kilian, he said company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys had failed in her duties to keep the board in check when its meetings were not quorate.

"It is the role of the company secretary to honestly advice the board if they don't quorate. If you don't, you fail in your duties."

Political interference

READ: Motsoeneng 'squatting' at SABC - former board member

He said if Geldenhuys could not advise the board that founding legislation was higher than any of the other Acts, including the Company's Act, then that was a failure.

He also said the SABC board's wheels started coming off after three members - Ronnie Lubisi, the late Hope Zinde, and Rachel Kalidass - were removed in July 2014 for protesting the decision to appoint Hlaudi Motsoeneng as permanent chief operating officer.

Responding to Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme, Tseisi said he did not know what Communications Minister Faith Muthambi's role was in her interactions with the board.

He also said political interference was one of the main causes of instability in news organisations and that he had spent much of his role investigating that prior to being suspended in May 2014.

He returned briefly in September 2016, but then left permanently in October.

The committee also interviewed former board member Krish Naidoo and former acting CEO Phil Molefe on Friday.

On Monday, the ad hoc committee will interview former SABC human resources chief Jabulani Mabaso, former technology head Sipho Masinga, former labour relations general manager Madiwe Nkosi, and four journalists representing the "SABC 8".

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