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DA: Statement by Niekie van den Berg, Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of communications, calling for clarity on reasons for the SABC board resignations (19/10/2010)

19th October 2010

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Two things need to happen as a result of the sudden resignation of yet another SABC board member, yesterday:

• First, the posts of the resigned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) members must be advertised as a matter of urgency. The DA will make this case before the Portfolio Committee tomorrow. The resignations have effectively paralyzed the board and rendered it incapable of making decisions that affect the operation of the public broadcaster. It is essential that a full complement of the board is in office to ensure that the SABC is able to meet the obligations of the R1 billion guarantee from National Treasury and provide quality programming to the public.

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• Second, the public deserves a full explanation for each resignation. Thus, when the full SABC board, including the members that have resigned, appears before the Portfolio Committee on Communications tomorrow, the DA will ask them to furnish reasons for their resignations; and we will endeavour to ensure that they are full and detailed.

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. The memorandum indicated that they were being circumvented by the chairperson of the board, Ben Ngubane, and the suspended GCEO Solly Mokoetle in performing their duties, particularly with regard to the appointment of the Head of News. Should it be confirmed that the resignations are 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.

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The SABC has been plagued by crisis after crisis in the last number of years, which has undoubtedly contributed to the financial predicament that resulted in losses of R910 million and a R1 billion 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.

The DA will also ensure that, once applications and nominations are received for new SABC board members, experienced, non-partisan and qualified people are appointed. It is of particular importance that non-partisan people sit on the SABC board, because the crises affecting the SABC are a direct result of the ANC's drive to control the public broadcaster through cadre deployment. The SABC is 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.

 

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