ANC has no intention of bringing integrity to SABC board – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP believes this list was an ANC list and not a committee list

ANC shows no intention of bringing integrity to the SABC Board

14 March 2019

Today, the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications selected candidates for the 8 vacancies on the SABC Board. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be writing to President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise a serious objection to the inclusion of Professor Sathasivan Cooper on the list.

Professor Cooper has no broadcasting experience and during his tenure as Vice Chancellor of the University of Durban-Westville (prior to the merge with UKZN), he was investigated for 11 governance issues. The investigator's report to the Education Minister portrayed Cooper as “manipulative” and prone to “surrounding himself with acolytes”.

We believe Professor Cooper will destroy the SABC board. During the interview process he came across as extremely arrogant and he will not be a team player. He also did not challenge the report to the Minister and despite these serious allegations, the ANC was insistent on including him. Professor Cooper displayed disdain for members of the committee which is worrisome: this is the same committee he will be reporting to as a member of the board.

There was also unhappiness about Professor Cooper’s appointment to the Professional Board of Psychology of the Health Professions Council of South Africa in 2004. At that time, leading psychologists were enraged at his appointment, saying that he was not democratically elected, but rather appointed by then Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

His intolerant attitude was also displayed when he made comments in an online article that people who date online, are “retarded”. This is not a personality we need on the SABC board.

On 4 candidates we reached agreement: Mary Papayya, Jasmina Patel, Dr. Maria Socikwa and Mamodupi Mohlala-Molaudzi. Ms Papayya has especially displayed her fierce independence and journalistic integrity. As a founding editor of South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) we belief she will be a valuable asset to the SABC board.

The ANC also showed no interest in selecting candidates with much-needed financial experience. The DA nominated Mr. Rowan Nicholls, the only charted accountant (CA) on the list, was rejected by the ANC. It is no secret the SABC is in deep financial trouble and someone with his skills would have served well. The board has previously requested the skills of a CA, but it is clear the ANC would rather appoint cronies than people with much-needed skills.

Furthermore, the ANC also refused to include female candidates which were far more qualified than the ANC-linked male applicants. These female applicants were overlooked, for a board which has historically under-represented women in the past.

We believe this list was an ANC list and not a committee list. The ANC was not willing to see reason or compromise on any candidates. It is clear they have no intention of restoring the integrity of the SABC.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 14 March 2019