Parliament must urgently meet over SABC leadership vacuum

2016-12-19 22:28

SABC (Waldo Swiegers)

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Johannesburg – The Save Our SABC (SOS) coalition says the speaker of parliament needs to call an urgent meeting with the portfolio committee on communications to start working on appointing an interim board at the public broadcaster.

“The SABC has been really shaped by improper and bad governance and it would be in keeping with that improper and bad governance for there not to be an interim board,” said SOS spokesperson Sekoetlane Phamudi.

On Monday the presidency confirmed that chairperson of the SABC board Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe had resigned. He was the only remaining non-executive board member at the public broadcaster.

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who Maguvhe had praised for doing a stellar job, refused to comment on the matter.

“I am not going to comment on any matter that concerns the SABC,” Motsoeneng said to News24.

He said he would only break his silence on recent developments, including Maguvhe’s resignation, when he felt the time was right.

“Don’t worry… be patient, you are rushing. Don’t rush,” he said.

Parliament will have the task of putting together an interim board, which it will then propose to the president for approval.

Six months

This board can only function for 6 months and in that period the portfolio committee on communications is expected to start the process of vetting, interviewing and nominating new board members, who will also be sent to the president to be appointed as permanent members.

Phamudi said in this period, when there is no board to make decisions on behalf of the public broadcaster, the memoranda of incorporation (MOI) and the companies act provide direction as to who can make crucial decisions at the SABC.

“The MOI and SABC’s delegation of authority framework allow for decisions to be handed down to the next senior position, which would be the chief executive or acting and it goes further down in terms of the delegation of authority framework,” he explained.

James Aguma is currently the acting Chief Operations Officer. 

Phamudi said the SOS welcomed Maguvhe’s resignation even though they would have preferred it to have happened sooner.

“It comes a good number of months too late, we have been calling for him to resign for some months now. He had completely refused to do so, saying he would only go when the president asks him to,” said Phamudi.

South Africans must focus their attention on making sure the ad hoc committee looking into the SABC board continues to do its work, he continued.

A sentiment Media Monitoring’s William Board agrees with.

Structural changes

The committee must still give their report and work must be done towards implementing its recommendations.

“If we are just saying goodbye to Maguvhe and Hlaudi (Motsoeneng), then we will have a similar problem at a later stage,” said Bird.

Forensic audits, review of contracts and appointments of senior managers must be transparent and scrutinised heavily, he added.

Bird believed the only way to turn the SABC around would be through structural changes.

Even though Bird also questioned the amount of time it took for Maghuve to step down, he said in a bizarre twist, South Africans should be grateful to the professor for refusing to resign earlier.

“Had he not done that, there wouldn’t be an inquiry and the stuff happening at the SABC would have remained hidden,” said Bird.

Read more on:    sabc  |  media

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