SABC attempts to halt inquiry 'pathetic', committee hears

2016-12-07 16:17
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - MPs on Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board were critical of the broadcaster's attempts to “delay” its inquiry on Wednesday.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said she took serious exception to board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe's late attempt to halt the proceedings.

“It is nothing more than a vexatious, pathetic attempt to try and delay this committee,” she said.

The SABC’s delegation walked out of the first day of the ad hoc committee's hearings, after multiple attempts by Maguvhe to halt its work failed.

- Read more: SABC walkout 'disgusting' - ANC chief whip

On Tuesday, Maguvhe launched a last-minute appeal against the Western Cape High Court's decision dismissing his request for an interdict to stop the committee’s work. On Friday, Judge Siraj dismissed his bid, with costs. He said he would give reasons later.

On Wednesday, Maguvhe complained to the committee that the three documents the committee would be scrutinising were not in Braille. He is partially blind.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith told the SABC delegation that its secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys, requested the documents from the committee in Word format on November 18 in order to transcribe them into Braille.

The committee resolved to continue with the inquiry as the high court had not ordered it to cease working.

The SABC delegation, including acting CEO James Aguma and head of corporate affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng, then walked out.

Van Damme said the three reports under consideration on Wednesday were public and, as chairperson of the SABC, Maguvhe should have read them already.

They were the auditor general's 2015/16 report, the Public Protector's 2014 report, and Icasa's ruling earlier this year on the SABC's “protest policy”.

'We have to put our foot down'

IFP MP Narend Singh said the committee should proceed, as all the reports were not new and the SABC should be more familiar with them than the ad hoc committee.

EFF MP Fana Mokoena said Parliament had done its work by acceding to Geldenhuys's request, and the inquiry must continue.

ANC MP Makhosi Khoza said all the documents in question were from public institutions.

“We are not talking about top secret documents. Everybody has access to these documents.

“We are very accommodating and very logical beings. But there are times when we have to put our foot down and say 'no',” she said.

During the lunch break, Smith said they had complied with the SABC's request for Braille documents in November.

He said the committee would make sure witness interviews would be transcribed in Braille.

The SABC's walkout could be considered contempt of Parliament, as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, he added.

Smith said earlier on Wednesday that Maguvhe launched a late appeal on Tuesday against Judge  Desai's decision.

The committee took a 30 minute break on Wednesday morning to discuss its options given the pending appeal.

They took legal advice that Parliament would not be deterred from its work, Smith said after their private meeting.

“There is no court order as we speak from continuing its work, and so shall it be. We will continue, today.”


Read more on:    da  |  sabc  |  phumzile van damme  |  mbulaheni ma­gu­vhe  |  media  |  parliament 2016

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