DA to question Muthambi and SABC Board over purge
15 March 2015
Reports that SABC Board Member Hope Zinde is being ‘purged' are cause for serious concern. This follows a letter Communications Minister Faith Muthambi sent to various Board Members last year unlawfully threatening them with their removal (see Sunday Independent report).
The DA will raise questions around this alleged purge when Minister Muthambi and the SABC Board appear before the Portfolio Committee on Tuesday this week.
Press reports indicate that the SABC Board passed a vote of no confidence in Zinde on Thursday. According to a statement issued by Zinde, the meeting was conducted in her absence and was not quorate. If this is the case, then the SABC Board had no authority to recommend Zinde's removal from office.
At the Portfolio Committee on Tuesday, we will also take the opportunity to interrogate Minister Muthambi on the SABC Memorandum of Incorporation signed in September last year. This document will turn the SABC into a state broadcaster by giving the Minister unprecedented powers to control the affairs of the corporation.
All indications are that the SABC's history of political interference and purges is repeating itself. It is therefore vital that the Portfolio Committee fulfils its oversight role on Tuesday, and that Minister Muthambi and the full SABC Board avail themselves for the committee meeting.
On 17 February this year, the Portfolio Committee agreed to call Minister Muthambi and the full SABC Board before the Committee on 3 March to discuss "the state of the SABC, evaluation of its capacity and the current affairs." Unfortunately, the Minister could not attend on 3 March due to ill health, and the meeting was moved to this Tuesday 17 March.
Minister Muthambi's absence at last week's committee meeting to discuss digital migration was notable, as was her absence when the Portfolio Committee visited her Department on 5 February. We trust that the Minister will avail herself for this important Portfolio Committee meeting on Tuesday.
We also trust that the full SABC Board will be in attendance on Tuesday, in line with the Portfolio Committee's resolution that the entire Board must be present. Given the differences of opinion that have emerged amongst the Board, it is vital that all Board Members are present so that the Portfolio Committee can get the full picture.
Statement issued by Gavin Davis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, March 15 2015
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