Fill SABC board posts urgently - DA

2010-10-19 16:38

Cape Town - The posts of those who resigned from the SA Broadcasting Corporation's board must be advertised as a matter of urgency, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.

"The resignations have effectively paralysed the board and rendered it incapable of making decisions that affect the operation of the public broadcaster," DA spokesperson Niekie van den Berg said.

It was essential a full complement of the board was in office to ensure the SABC was able to meet the obligations of the R1bn guarantee from National Treasury and provide quality programming to the public, he said.

Further, the public deserved a full explanation for each resignation.

"It is important that these reasons be made known, particularly in view of the concerns raised by the board in a memorandum sent to the minister of communications in June."

Crisis after crisis

The memorandum indicated they were being circumvented by board chairperson Ben Ngubane, and suspended group CEO Solly Mokoetle, in performing their duties, particularly with regard to the appointment of the head of news.

Should it be confirmed that the resignations were a result of Ngubane's "bullying" and Mokoetle's "unlawful interference in the affairs of the board", Ngubane and Mokoetle should be held to account.

The SABC had been plagued by crisis after crisis, which had undoubtedly contributed to the financial predicament that resulted in losses of R910m and a R1bn bail-out from Treasury at the end of 2009.

"Unless good governance is restored, the SABC runs the risk of exacerbating its financial woes even further," he said.

The DA would ensure that, once applications and nominations were received for new board members, experienced, non-partisan and qualified people were appointed.

It was of particular importance that non-partisan people sat on the SABC board, because the crises affecting the SABC were a "direct result of the ANC's drive to control the public broadcaster through cadre deployment".

The SABC was accountable to the public by virtue of the payment of mandatory public license fees, and not to the ANC.

"The DA will ensure that the people appointed adhere to their mandate to further the interests of the public as a whole, and not only those of the ANC," Van den Berg said.

Breakdown of trust

On Monday, the presidency announced President Jacob Zuma had received and accepted the resignation of four members of the board.

Zuma is the board's "appointing body" in terms of the Broadcasting Act.

The resignations received by the presidency from the communications ministry were those of board deputy chairperson Felleng Sekha, and members Barbara Masekela, David Niddrie, and Makgatho Mello.

Last week, Business Day reported that Masekela, former ambassador to France and prominent member of the ANC, was the first to resign, followed by Mello, Sekha, and Niddrie.

The newspaper quoted a "senior SABC official" as having said the board was frustrated with the government's inaction on the SABC's woes.

The board felt isolated, as first the communications department and then Parliament's communications committee failed to intervene, despite the board on May 22 announcing a breakdown of trust with Ngubane.

The breakdown was over Ngubane's move to appoint Phil Molefe as head of news - while the board was reviewing candidates, it said.