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DA: Statement by Lindiwe Mazibuko, Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of communications, on the SABC (23/05/2010)

23rd May 2010


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If reports about the debacle surrounding the appointment of Acting SABC Head of News, Phil Molefe, as the public broadcaster's permanent news chief are accurate, then it is clear that due process has not been followed in the appointment process, and that the SABC Board needs to move swiftly to avert a leadership crisis of the kind which was the undoing of the previous Board.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be writing to the Chairman of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications, Mr Ismail Vadi, to request that he summon the SABC Board to appear before the committee as a matter of urgency, to account for the events of the past four days.

The Broadcasting Act states clearly that the Executive Committee of the SABC - of which the Group CEO, Solly Mokoetle, is a member - "... is accountable to the Board". As such, it would be a clear breach of due process for the GCEO and the Chairman of the Board, Mr Ben Ngubane, to have made the crucial Head of News appointment unilaterally without consulting the Board, as has been alleged. It is also unacceptable that Board members should have been kept so much in the dark that they first heard about the appointment in the press.

Following his appointment as GCEO by the Interim Board late last year, Mr Mokoetle was quick to state on the record that he viewed himself as accountable to the Minister of Communications - ignoring in his remarks his legal accountability to the permanent Board. The DA raised its concerns about this matter, and urged the incoming Board to remind Mr Mokoetle who is boss. The allegation that he has now acted independently and only with the knowledge of the Board Chairman is further cause for concern, as is the allegation that Mr Ngubane obtained President Zuma's blessing for the appointment.

The President is not responsible for executive appointments at the SABC; nor is the Board accountable to Mr Zuma in this regard. Allegations of presidential interference can only serve to entrench the perception that the SABC operates at the behest of the governing party, and the Board needs to assert its independence and do everything necessary to restore the credibility of the public broadcaster.

The DA hopes that the Communications Committee - to which the Board of the SABC is accountable - will move swiftly to establish the facts of this matter as well as to find out what steps the Board intends taking to resolve this situation. Parliament must do everything necessary to ensure that we avert the type of leadership crisis which took hold of previous Boards as a result of similar schisms in the chain of accountability.



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