‘Focus on my credentials not my connections’: SABC board chair

Bongumusa Makhathini
Bongumusa Makhathini

New SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini wants people to focus on his credentials rather than “possible political connections” through his role as chairperson of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation.

Makhathini has stepped down from his role at the foundation, which handles diabetes awareness and was started by the president’s wife.

He was appointed as SABC board chairperson yesterday by President Jacob Zuma, more than a month after Parliament’s approval of candidates.

Eleven others were also appointed to non-executive board positions, including deputy chairperson Febe Potgieter-Gqubule.

Makhathini said that he resigned from the position this morning, after receiving his appointment letter at 4pm yesterday.

He chose to resign from his role at the non-government organisation following perceptions that it would serve as a conflict of interest, and wanted to erase doubt in the mind of the public.

He wanted people to focus on his credentials and his work going forward, rather than perceptions of possible political connections through the foundation that handles diabetes awareness.

The foundation was started by Ngema-Zuma in 2010 after the death of her mother, who had lived with diabetes for 28 years.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union yesterday called on Makhathini to step down from the foundation to ensure there was no conflict of interest.

The Democratic Alliance and the union had raised concerns about the politically connected chairperson and deputy chairperson of the board.

Potgieter-Gqubule was chief of staff for ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma when she headed the African Union Commission.

Her name also appears on some slates for the ANC’s top six to be elected at the party’s conference in December.

The DA’s communications spokesperson, Phumzile van Damme, called Makhathini’s proximity to the Zuma family “a concern”, and said that Potgieter-Gqubule, a close ally and adviser to Dlamini-Zuma, had strong political ties to the ANC and had admitted during the interviews that there was a possibility that she would resign from the SABC board if she was elected to the ANC national executive committee.

Shortly after the SABC board announcement, Zuma also announced another Cabinet reshuffle.

Read: Zuma announces new SABC board, communications minister

Minister Ayanda Dlodlo was shifted from communications to the home affairs portfolio, with energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi replacing her. – News24

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