And then it was four: Mathatha Tsedu resigns from SABC board

2018-12-06 12:51
A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

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Mathatha Tsedu has become the fourth SABC board member to hand in his resignation, the presidency has confirmed.  

When News24 called Tsedu, he declined to comment, directing the media house to the Presidency. 

This means that the board is no longer quorate. They will have a 30-day grace period in which they can make decisions. 

Spokesperson for the President,  Khusela Diko, told News24 that Cyril Ramaphosa has accepted the resignations. She said he is writing to the speaker of Parliament. After this the speak will need to engage with the portfolio committee to either fast track new appointments to make the board quorate or to establish a new board. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said she noted the latest developments.

She said the ministry would communicate further upon conclusion of all the requisite processes, after Ramaphosa has written to the speaker. 

Earlier resignations

Earlier this week, three other board members handed in their resignations. 

News24 has seen the resignation letters of Krish Naidoo, deputy chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama and DA-nominee John Mattison.

Naidoo confirmed to News24 that he resigned on Tuesday.

He said he had come to the realisation that there was no point in staying on.

"As I said in my letter, the inability of some of the board members to understand the difference between corporate independence, accountability and political interference has led to a breakdown in the relationship with the minister. That was my turning point.

READ: SABC board members throw in the towel in fresh battle with government

The SABC, in a short statement released on Tuesday, said it had "noted" reports that three members of its board had resigned and referred all queries to the Presidency.

The broadcaster also denied that its group chief executive Madoda Mxakwe had also resigned.

The resignations follow a strained meeting between the board, newly-appointed Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and her deputy, Pinky Kekana, last Thursday.

READ: SABC board members throw in the towel in fresh battle with government

The battle between the board and government over looming retrenchments at the public broadcaster came to a head during the meeting and another source close to the communications ministry told News24 the resignations were in protest against some of the board members' treatment of the minister at the sitting.

A letter in which Ndabeni-Abrahams states her intention to stop engaging with the board over a dispute regarding planned retrenchments was leaked to the media over the weekend.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said she had been forced to cut ties with the board after the meeting and would "report this impasse to the president, Parliament and all relevant stakeholders" City Press reported the letter as saying over the weekend.

The SABC embarked on a process to cut jobs by 980 staff and more than 1 200 freelancers in an effort to stem the financial crisis it finds itself in.

The broadcaster needs at least R3bn to stave off a March 2019 D-day, when it will find itself unable to pay salaries or bills.

EFF response 

In a statement issued on Thursday, the EFF called on Ramaphosa to intervene in the SABC board crisis and exodus of board members. EFF spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi  said the party had already written to the president, calling for his intervention, but had not received a response as yet.

Ndlozi said government must give the SABC the guarantee it needs to raise meaningful money in order to stabilize. 

"Majority of the board members will resign, because there is no support from government in terms of the guarantee. They have literally been set up to fail. The EFF believes that many in the ANC want the collapse of the SABC, to institute a new board that they can control towards 2019 Elections. How can a minister demand SABC to rethink its retrenchment plan, when she is not giving them any guarantee?" he said.

Ndlozi added that it was a clear strategy to have SABC fail, so as to impose an interim board that the ANC can control. 


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