Fears that Zuma, Mbete stall SABC board's work

2017-08-01 20:30
President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

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Cape Town - Why hasn't President Jacob Zuma allowed the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to investigate "questionable" contracts at the SABC?

Why hasn't speaker Baleka Mbete released a report on who lied to the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board? How much money is the guarantee the SABC wants from Treasury?

These are some of the questions which remain after the SABC interim board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama on Tuesday addressed the portfolio committee on communications on the progress the interim board made in implementing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board. Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo was unable to attend, as she was at the Cabinet lekgotla.

Kweyama's presentation was generally well received, but members were concerned about some issues, which are not necessarily to be blamed on the interim board.

One of these issues is that Zuma is yet to sign a proclamation to allow the SIU to investigate what the ad hoc committee termed "questionable" contracts. The SIU can only conduct an investigation once the president signed a proclamation instructing them to do so.

Kweyama said the interim board commissioned the SIU to conduct a forensic investigation into fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2017. They have also referred some of the contracts to the SIU.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Steve Swart said Zuma's failure to sign the proclamation inhibits the interim board in winding up the recommendations.

'Delaying justice'

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Zuma is delaying the stabilisation of the SABC.

"He is delaying justice," Ndlozi said.

"Let the country know it is because of Mr Zuma. He's sitting on it [the proclamation]. It is unacceptable."

He said maybe Zuma is taking his time because his friends are implicated.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Phumzile van Damme also expressed her concern on the matter and proposed that the committee send a letter to the Presidency. 

One of the ad hoc committee's recommendations, which was not directed at the interim board, required that Parliament compile a list of people that could have lied to the ad hoc committee. Parliament's legal services have done so and sent the report within its deadline to Mbete.

Members expressed their concern that Mbete has not released this report to the committee. ANC MP Mziwamadoda Kalako said the committee must write to Mbete to ask where is the report.

Van Damme echoed this sentiment and said Mbete started to process the report, while it is the committee's job to process it.

Van Damme was also concerned that Dlodlo has not made public the amount that the SABC requested from Treasury.

Kekana, the ANC whip in the committee, suggested that the committee calls Dlodlo to answer this question and other matters.

Van Damme wanted Kweyama to answer, as the board reports to Parliament and not the minister. The committee's chairperson, Humphrey Maxegwana, said he thought the committee agreed to call Dlodlo and did not allow Van Damme's question.

After the meeting, Van Damme expressed her concern that Zuma and Mbete seem to be stalling the work done by the interim board.

"Despite the interim board’s hard work, it seems that yet again the political will is missing to fix the major problems at the SABC. It is time for President Zuma and Mbete to stop stalling and start acting immediately," said Van Damme in a statement. 

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, ANC’s study group on communications said the work by the interim board is "commendable".

The study group is pleased by the board progress and welcomes the repeal of the broadcasting ban on violent footage, Kalako said. 

He said the board’s process to consult the public on an editorial policy review, as required by legislation, is also praiseworthy. 

The interim board was appointed by Zuma in March following a damning report by an ad hoc committee.

Their term is expected to come to an end in September when a permanent board will be appointed. 

Read more on:    sabc  |  jacob zuma  |  baleka mbete

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