Dissolve SABC board - Parly

2009-07-01 15:21

Cape Town - Parliament adopted a resolution on Wednesday recommending that President Jacob Zuma dissolve the SABC board and the Auditor General investigate financial mismanagement at the broadcaster.

"We are absolutely certain the board is dysfunctional," ANC MP Ismail Vadi, who chairs Parliament's portfolio committee on communications, said in the National Assembly.

"Even members of the board themselves do not believe they have the will and tenacity to continue with their duties."

The Auditor-General, he said, "will investigate the manipulation of tenders, conflict of interest and other areas of mismanagement".

Vadi said "there had quite probably" been a meltdown in corporate governance at the SABC, which reported a financial loss of R839m for the 2008/09 financial year. The broadcaster had asked the government for a R2bn bailout.

Appoint board quickly

Vadi said it was vital for the interim board and then the permanent board to be appointed as quickly as possible.

The SABC's non-executive board had crumbled since the beginning of April. Only one out 12 members of the board had not resigned.

"The crisis we are facing today is the culmination of deep-rooted systemic defects in the machinery of the SABC," former board member Nadia Bulbulia said in a written submission to the committee.

"Whether it's the commissioning editors on the 'take' or executives ensuring that their unlimited car allowances are protected, to the industrial espionage of selling trade secrets to the competition, or board members and chief executives playing politics - it is all learnt behaviour that will take time to change."

Forensic audit

The board were summonsed to Parliament last week to answer questions on their ability to carry out their duties.

The Communication Workers Union and the Media Workers' Association of SA on Tuesday called for an immediate independent forensic audit into the SABC.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, a member of the committee, questioned in the National Assembly whether a proper investigation could be held into the broadcaster.

"The question is whether a proper inquiry can happen while the suspects and culprits still work at the SABC," he said.