Last push for SABC inquiry

Cape Town – The ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board has entered its last week of deliberations and is hoping to agree on solid recommendations to save the troubled public broadcaster.

The committee was meeting on Tuesday for one of three proposed meetings this week, with only the final draft recommendations to be decided.

The committee's legal framework and observations have already been recorded, but the final phase has taken longer than expected.

It is during this phase that MPs have shown signs of tension for the first time, as they negotiate the fate of, not only the SABC, but also recommendations for those outside of the public broadcaster who have been implicated.

Witness testimonies at the public hearings in December and January suggested external political interference at the SABC since at least 2011.

Recommendations 'just that'

Individuals implicated included current Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, then-Transnet CEO Brian Molefe, the Gupta family, and an ominous reference to "Pretoria", widely taken as reference to the Union Buildings, the seat of government.

The recommendations regarding Muthambi's fate, specifically, have been a point of contention among the parties.

Deliberations began at 10:00 on Tuesday.

The committee has until Friday to complete its work, before sending the recommendations off to the SABC for comment for a two-week period.

Thereafter, the committee hopes to finalise the report, with the SABC's response included, by February 21, and then send it to the National Assembly.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith last week stressed that the draft recommendations were just that, and would only be legal once adopted by the National Assembly.

The National Assembly has until February 28 to adopt the recommendations.

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