DA, ANC, SACP all interfered at SABC - Tshabalala

2017-01-13 18:15
Ellen Tshabalala (City Press)

Ellen Tshabalala (City Press)

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Cape Town - There was a lot of political interference during her tenure at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, former board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala said on Friday.

Addressing Parliament’s SABC ad hoc committee, Tshabalala was adamant that there "was gross interference" in the SABC.

This was in direct contradiction to the testimony given by former chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane before her.

She had only been working at the SABC for a week, she said, before she experienced her first "interference", she told the committee.

She initially mentioned Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s name, before she clarified that she had received a call from someone at the South African Communist Party.

Accused of making the minister a scapegoat, she said it had in fact been someone else from the SACP who had called her, asking her to support former communications minister Yunus Carrim on the encryption project.

"We were inundated with politicians asking us to support this encryption. There is gross interference and it has the potential to derail even employees from giving the board the correct information, because they are influenced outside," she told the committee.

Political interference was commonplace, she repeatedly said.

She said the interference came from the Democratic Alliance, the African National Congress and the SACP.

READ: Somebody must go to jail - SABC inquiry chairperson

Serious allegations

But Tshabalala refused to divulge the names of these politicians who had interfered, and "reserved her right not to disclose".

ANC MP Patrick Chauke was not impressed, and said she was making serious allegations and should back them up.

Asked why she had eventually left the SABC, Tshabalala said it was due to "negative reporting" on her qualifications.

She said the former communications committee chairperson had refused to listen to her side of the story.

Tshabalala further told the committee that she had been told by other politicians that she had not been meant to get the job as chairperson.

This raised Chauke's ire, who again cautioned her against mentioning more politicians without giving names.

Tshabalala was asked to provide written submissions on allegations of political interference.

The former chairperson was also grilled on the meeting that led to Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment as COO.

Questioned on how quickly the board had made the decision, she said it was because of pressure from Parliament to fill the crucial post.

"So Parliament asked you to break the law? Is that what you are saying? Even if it meant flouting processes?" both Chauke and EFF MP Fana Mokoena asked her.

She denied that there had been any political pressure to appoint Motsoeneng.

What next for the committee

Tshabalala was the last witness to appear before the committee. The MPs will now meet on January 19 to put a draft report together, which will be presented to the committee by January 24.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith said the draft report would be sent to all affected executives and they would be given a February 9 deadline.

The committee hoped to finalise its report by February 14 and 15, he said.

He called for anyone who wanted to make a submission to the committee to do so before the draft report was finished.

Read more on:    sabc  |  ellen tshabalala  |  media freedom  |  parliament 2017

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