'Conditional offer' made to Chris Maroleng, SABC board confirms

2018-01-23 15:56
Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (File)

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (File)

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Cape Town – SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini has confirmed that a conditional offer has been made to journalist Chris Maroleng to become the public broadcaster's new COO.

The process, however, has yet to be finalised, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications heard on Tuesday.

Makhathini and Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane appeared before MPs on Tuesday to account for media reports that Kubayi-Ngubane had tried to "interfere" with the appointment.

A Sunday World report last week revealed that Maroleng would be appointed to the position, quoting three senior sources.

ALSO READ: Battle over SABC top job continues

"As the board, we did not sanction that media report," Makhathini told MPs.

"We extended a conditional appointment, subject to vetting. The process is currently being finalised."

He also indicated that there had been ample consultation between the board and the minister.

"There were meetings between me and the minister, and meetings with some of the board members. We had letters indicating every step, so there was consultation and discussion."

Kubayi-Ngubane faced public criticism last week for saying that "all appointments of the COO, CEO and CFO of state-owned entities are done through Cabinet processes, and therefore the announcement of the outcome is made by Cabinet".

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi on Tuesday acknowledged that Kubayi-Ngubane had a right to be consulted, but that the board was not bound by her opinion.

"Even if her opinion is beautiful, the board can wake up tomorrow and choose to do what it wants. It is a public broadcaster, not a state broadcaster," he said.

He accused Cabinet of wanting to put "their person" in the position, but it was the board, not Cabinet, that made executive appointments.

'I do not want to hire or fire'

Kubayi-Ngubane again denied that she was trying to interfere in the board's prerogative to appoint chief executives, saying, as the minister, she only wanted to be consulted, as per the law.

"As the minister of communications, I do not want to appoint, nor fire executives," she told MPs.

"That is the responsibility of the board. Where it’s important, is for us to be consulted as government."

ALSO READ: The board still has to consult me on SABC appointments – Minister Kubayi-Ngubane

She said her statement – that processes of appointment were handled through Cabinet – was only to reflect the "spirit" that government be consulted on board appointments.

She claimed she'd been surprised by the news, as her ministry had not been consulted on Maroleng's appointment at the time of the media report.

'Don't touch me on my studio'

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the fact that there was consultation with the minister meant her role in the process must now end.

ANC MP Rembuluwani Tseli suggested that, having heard from both the minister and the board, they accept the report back. The minister declared that she did not want to interfere, while the board said the process was not yet complete.

The committee agreed to wait for an official announcement of any appointments by the board in future.

Makhathini did not specify when the vetting process would be completed.

Maroleng's career includes his previous post as executive for group corporate affairs at the MTN Group, eNCA Africa editor for six years, and a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.

He gained social media fame after being involved in a heated on-air discussion with former AWB secretary general André Visagie on eNCA in 2010, which led to him saying the famous line, "Don't touch me on my studio".

Read more on:    parliament  |  sabc  |  cape town  |  media

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