Muthambi to account for role in SABC

2016-10-23 06:00
 Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi (GCIS)

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Communications Minister Faith Muthambi will have to explain her role in the shenanigans at the SABC when the parliamentary inquiry into its board is held next month.

Muthambi, the political head of the corporation, has made a point of staying under the radar in a futile attempt to avoid criticism about the SABC board’s fitness to hold office and the reinstatement of former chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng to an executive post.

Muthambi previously defended the board and Motsoeneng, turning on the media, opposition parties and nongovernmental organisations instead and accusing them of taking an “anti-transformation” stance against the SABC.

But her silence over the past few weeks has been deafening in the wake of calls by the ANC and Cabinet for her to dissolve the board.

This week, DA spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme proposed that Muthambi be called in to account for her role at the SABC.

This elicited a divided response by ANC MPs in the communications committee, according to City Press sources.

Some MPs objected to Van Damme’s proposal, but most endorsed it. Humphrey Maxegwana, chair of the portfolio committee on communications, confirmed to City Press that Muthambi was “a potential witness” in the inquiry into the SABC.

But he would not say whether she would be made to answer for her refusal to deal with the SABC board. “The committee decided that she must be requested to be part of those who will be interviewed.

“She will have to answer. There may be some things that will emerge and as the shareholder, there are decisions which involved her,” he said.

City Press has also learnt that former public protector Thuli Madonsela is among the witnesses the committee wants to call in to give evidence.

Madonsela authored the 2014 report titled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, which found that Motsoeneng’s salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4 million in a year, and that, as acting COO at the time, he purged senior staff and misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC.

Madonsela recommended that a new COO be appointed to the SABC within 90 days. But five months later, Muthambi announced Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment as COO.

Other potential witnesses include former group chief executive officers Phil Molefe, Lulama Mokhobo and Frans Matlala; the two media advocacy groups SOS:

Support Public Broadcasting and Right2Know; and a number of other executive and nonexecutive staff members who were fired or resigned from the corporation, including the so-called SABC 8 – referring to the eight journalists who were fired and then rehired by the SABC in September, following a lengthy labour court battle, and who have since taken their case to the Constitutional Court.

The committee announced this week that it would go ahead with the parliamentary inquiry into whether the remaining SABC board members were fit to hold office.

Maxegwana said three board members refused to resign when requested to do so by the committee, but “they have indicated their willingness to attend the inquiry”.

On Friday, SABC board member Leah Khumalo tendered her resignation, with immediate effect.

Read more on:    anc  |  sabc  |  phumzile van damme  |  faith muthambi  |  hlaudi motsoeneng

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