Communications committee invites nominations to fill SABC board amid turmoil

A general view of the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg.
A general view of the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg.

Amid the turmoil of resignations from the SABC board, the Portfolio Committee on Communications is asking for nominations to fill eight vacant posts.

In recent weeks, four board members resigned – Mathatha Tsedu, Krish Naidoo, deputy chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama and John Mattison. This after the committee failed to fill four other vacant posts this year.

The four previous vacancies were created by the exit of Nomvuyiso Batyi, Rachel Kalidass, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule and Victor Rambau.

After being nominated by the committee in September last year, Batyi withdrew before the National Assembly assented.

WATCH: 'I have been doing wonderfully for SABC' - Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Kalidass resigned in November last year, saying that her questioning of the suitability of candidates considered for the group CEO and chief operations officer positions had been met with great hostility and that she had been attacked.

The board denied that she had been victimised.

Potgieter-Gqubule resigned after she was elected to the ANC national executive committee in December.

Rambau resigned in June.

Public, institutions invited to nominate

In October, the committee agreed on a shortlist of 12 candidates and invited public comment.

Then, in November, the committee decided to re-advertise these four vacancies, following the withdrawal of candidates who had been made offers elsewhere. 

Nine from a list of 12 shortlisted candidates remained, but the representation of women decreased from five to three which the committee deemed not to be reflective of the country's population demographics. 

The Portfolio Committee on Communications has invited institutions and members of the public to nominate persons who will fill the eight vacancies for non-executive members on the SABC board.

READ: Low staff morale, fear and anger at the SABC

The committee's chairperson, Hlengiwe Mkhize, said in a statement released on Tuesday that members of the board, when viewed collectively, must be persons who are suited to serve on the board by virtue of, among other things, qualifications, expertise and experience in the field of broadcasting policy and technology, media law, broadcasting regulation, business practice and finance, journalism, marketing, and are South African citizens or permanent residents in the republic. 

Nominations and enquiries may be addressed to the committee secretary, Thembinkosi Ngoma, 3rd Floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town 8000 or emailed to tngoma@parliament.gov.za or faxed to 086 522 5740. Telephone enquiries can be made to 021 403 3733. 

The closing date for nominations is Friday, December 21, 2018, and candidates who applied previously need not re-apply as their nominations will be considered. 

Hundreds facing retrenchment

Last week's board resignations followed a strained meeting between new Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, her deputy Pinky Kekana and the board.

Ndabeni-Abrahams reportedly played hardball with the board about the retrenchment process undertaken by the SABC.

News24 reported that a source close to the communications ministry said the resignations were in protest against some of the board members' treatment of the minister at the sitting.

A letter in which Ndabeni-Abrahams states her intention to stop engaging with the board over a dispute regarding planned retrenchments was leaked to the media last weekend.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said she had been forced to cut ties with the board after the meeting and would "report this impasse to the president, Parliament and all relevant stakeholders", City Press reported.

The SABC is in the process of retrenching 980 staff members and more than 1 200 freelancers in an attempt to balance its books. The public broadcaster needs at least R3bn before March 2019, when it will be unable to pay salaries or bills.

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