Department of Communications, Presidency must urgently fill MDDA board vacancies – MPs

2018-05-03 22:24


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The Portfolio Committee on Communications called on the Department of Communications and the Presidency to urgently fill the vacancies on the Media Development and Diversity Agency's (MDDA) board as it expressed its concern about the "ongoing challenges" at the institution.

The committee visited the MDDA on Thursday while on an oversight visit to Gauteng to report back to staff on issues raised during a previous engagement the committee had with all stakeholders in 2017. Following the visit, committee chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana issued a statement stating that the ongoing challenges "continue to hamper the smooth running of this important institution". 

A major concern for the committee is the inability of the board to function efficiently because it doesn't meet quorum.  

The board has a fiduciary duty to ensure that the institution functions effectively and the current situation negatively impacts the operation of the institution. 

"It is concerning that board committees are not functional with the exception of the audit and risk committee," said Maxegwana.     

"While the committee acknowledges the challenge posed by the inquorate board, it has called for the Department of Communications as the shareholder representative, together with the Presidency, to urgently fill the vacant positions within the board."

High vacancy rate at agency 

The committee found the appointment of the company secretary as the acting CEO for two months "highly irregular". The committee views this as the blurring of lines between the operations of the entity and board oversight. 

"Despite this, the committee welcomes the secondment of an acting CEO from the Government Communication and Information System to assist on a temporary basis until the position is filled," reads the statement.

The committee is also concerned about the vacancy rate at the institution, especially at senior management level.  

"The development of a diversified media landscape is a critical role necessary for the sustenance of South Africa's democracy. While the threat by Sentech to shut down community radio stations due to non-payment has been resolved, the committee has urged the executive management together with the department to find lasting solutions to that challenge." 

READ: Sentech to reconnect community radio stations suspended over non-payment

"The committee will, following these interactions, decide what possible way forward must be undertaken to bring finality to challenges at the entity. Also, the appointment of a permanent CEO and CFO, as well as other vacant senior management positions, is a matter that must receive urgent attention as these positions are critical in driving the mandate of the institution."

The committee urged management to engage employees to build institutional morale and unity of purpose that is necessary to deliver on the mandate of the entity. 

The committee views the MDDA as "a strategic lever necessary to ensure the development of a diverse media landscape that is necessary for a maturing democracy as ours and cannot be left to disintegrate".

On Friday the committee will meet labour unions at the SABC. 

"The employees at the SABC have over time raised various concerns about the running and general working conditions at the institution. The meeting is intended to listen to labour concerns and gather as much information as possible to enable the committee to do effective oversight over the entities it oversees."

Read more on:    mdda  |  media

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