Minister got 'too close to the action' at SABC, says former board member

Cape Town - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi acted unlawfully when she amended the SABC board's memorandum of incorporation (MOI), former board member Krish Naidoo has testified.

Naidoo, who resigned from the board publicly on October 5, was testifying under oath before Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board on Friday.

He affirmed what former colleague Vusi Mavuso testified on Thursday, that Muthambi had amended the memorandum in October 2014 to take group executive appointments from the board's oversight, and had given it to the three chief executives.

"The problem with the MOI is that it was done in contravention of the Broadcasting Act and to some extent the Constitution," he told MPs.

The amendment needed the signatures of all the board members, but was only signed by Muthambi.

Informed of decisions

He said there was a large turnover of executive staff following Muthambi's amendment in October 2014.

"You'd turn up to board meetings and find all these new people there, and ask what happened to Joe Soap of this position?"

The board had no say, from then onward, with regard to group executive appointments, and was just informed of the decisions.

He said the problem was that acting officials were holding very senior positions.

Naidoo said three former board members were illegally ejected from the board following their disapproval of Hlaudi Motsoeneng's permanent appointment as chief operating officer in July 2014.

They received no help from the portfolio committee of communications at the time, he said.

He described the way the board had also, unsuccessfully, tried to get rid of him.

Resignation threat

READ: Minister told SABC board to appoint Motsoeneng permanently as COO, MPs hear

Board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe, in a board meeting in 2014, warned him that his behaviour had become "worrisome" and that he was being disruptive in meetings.

Naidoo threatened to resign in the meeting.

Maguvhe phoned him later and said he was an asset and "shouldn't dare think of resigning".

The next day, he received a letter from Muthambi, citing Naidoo's alleged behaviour as an issue.

He replied and said the minister's actions boarded on illegality.

"In short, I asked the honourable minister to reconsider her action. I haven't heard from her again."

MPs asked him what he thought a minister's role should be at the public broadcaster.

"The role of the minister should be one of political oversight. I just think she came to close to the action at the SABC."

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