Veteran journalist and editor Mathatha Tsedu is the latest member of the SABC board to resign.
Tsedu’s resignation follows an earlier revelation that the board is being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) over a dispute involving a contract for security services valued at more than R180 million.
The SABC released a statement on the investigation into the interim board following reports that some board members resigned because they were implicated in an irregular security tender.
Three other board members, Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama and John Mattison, handed in their resignations earlier this week.
The resignations, however, have nothing to do with the SIU investigations, according to the DA and EFF.
The DA has accused the ANC of political interference after Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was reported to have been fighting against the SABC’s proposed retrenchments, which would include nearly 1000 permanent staff and 1200 freelance workers being let go to alleviate its financial crisis.
“The inability of some of the board members to understand the difference between corporate independence, accountability, and political interference has led to a breakdown in the relationship with the minister,” Naidoo said after resigning.
Ndabeni-Abrahams maintained that it was in the government’s best interest to avoid retrenchments because the government had a responsibility to reduce unemployment, however, the board remained committed to its retrenchment plan.
“The EFF believes that many in the ANC want the collapse of the SABC to institute a new board that they can control towards 2019 elections. How can a minister demand SABC to rethink its retrenchment plan, when she is not giving them any guarantee?” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told News24.
He added that it was a clear strategy to have the SABC fail and impose an interim board that the ANC could control.
The tension between the minister and the board followed a strained meeting between the two last Thursday.
“The board made it clear at the meeting that, irrespective of the success of a government guarantee or bailout, they will still proceed with retrenchments,” wrote Ndabeni-Abrahams in a letter leaked to the media over the weekend.
She added that she was forced to stop engaging with the board due to its refusal to cancel the retrenchments and would “report this impasse to the president [Cyril Ramaphosa], Parliament and all relevant stakeholders”.
The SABC needed at least R3 billion by March 2019 to continue paying wages and other expenses.
The EFF has called on Ramaphosa to intervene in the SABC board crisis saying that it had written to him, but had not received a response as yet.