"Accept that white minority power is dead" - Yengeni

Speech by ANC MP during debate on SABC Bill August 19 2008

Chairperson, the events that unfolded in the SABC since this board was appointed has left a bitter taste to those who fought and sacrificed for the liberation of this country. The ANC observed all the shocking and embarrassing news that dominated the front pages of the printed media in the past few months:

The leakage of memoranda by the board; the suspension of the head of news; the subsequent suspension of the GCEO of the SABC a few hours later; the string of court cases that were unleashed; the protests and petitions by management and staff of the SABC calling for the board to resign; and the string of board special meetings that amounted to more than a million rand in seven months, excluding accommodation, meals, transport, court cases and trips abroad. The exoneration of Snuki Zikalala, without facing the disciplinary processes is a serious precedent that insinuates that those who are close to the power are immune from disciplinary processes.

Hon Vos, who should account for those fruitless expenditures? An individual member of the board or is it a collective responsibility? Who should take responsibility for the leakage of the memorandum which the board agreed upon? Is the responsibility of an individual member of the board or is it the collective responsibility of the board? Who should take responsibility for the exoneration of Snuki Zikalala, without facing disciplinary processes? Is it the responsibility of an individual or is it the collective responsibility of the board?

The shortcomings of section 15 of the Broadcasting Act have never been an issue to this portfolio committee, nor to our predecessors for that matter. However, the circus in the SABC over the last few months has compelled the ANC in Parliament to ponder the ambiguity of this section and come up with various best possible options with the aim of rectifying it.

The amendment of the Bill was the only option that could empower Parliament to exercise a meaningful oversight and provide strategic interventions when necessary. Opposition parties have been lambasting the ANC for being rubber stampers of executive decisions. Today, the same rhetoric is repeated, yet the whole effort by the ANC in Parliament is aimed at empowering Parliament and the National Assembly.

The ANC is a caring organisation. It takes the views of opposition parties with respect and considers them. However, it is very difficult to reason with the opposition parties or to talk sense with them, because their concept of opposition is not based on the content of democratic principles.

I can understand that path with the DA, because it is a lily-white dominated party with strong traces of the apartheid regime. There is no political malice behind this decision and it is neither directed against the current President of the Republic.

It is unfortunate that the opposition parties again are hiding behind the Constitution in opposing this view, forgetting that the Speaker of the National Assembly, by virtue of being the leader of the National Assembly, he or she holds an executive role. The partiality of the Speaker is one of the prime values in terms of which the integrity of the South African Parliament is measured. The Speaker of the National Assembly's role is two-fold.

It has a dual nature, it is constitutional and institutional. Constitutional in the sense that he or she is a leader of the House; institutionally, because, as a leader of Parliament, the Speaker of the National Assembly must provide political guidance to the House and provide strategic interventions when it is needed. If we believe in the impartiality of the Speaker of the NA, why should we then question his or her capacity to appoint and dismiss?

The DA and the media have made it their business to shout and scream purge or purging whenever the majority party seeks to introduce changes, be it in its internal organisational structures or in Parliament and in government. The leader of the DA, hon Sandra Botha, led a campaign of motion of no confidence against the President of the Republic during the state of the national address in Parliament. Of course they failed to pass it.

The DA is the same party that is now threatening to petition the same President of the Republic to not sign this Amendment Bill. That is an old strategy of divide and rule by a lily-white apartheid regime. It has failed. It will fail even today.

The principle here is to fight the ANC at all costs. When the DA went to its predominantly white conference and elected a white leader, the ANC never screamed or jumped up and down. We respected the right of DA members to elect democratically a leader of their choice, but when the ANC does the same, suddenly it is a purge of Mbeki supporters by Zuma supporters.

In the same breath, this incompetent SABC board, which was recognised as such by a Supreme Court ruling, should not be dismissed, because it will be a purge of an Mbeki board. This crying and screaming of purge by the DA and the media is nothing more than a political manoeuvre to stifle the ability of the ANC to take its own democratic decisions in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of its Constitution.

The DA masquerades as a democratic organisation, yet seeks to deny the ANC the same right to decide democratically on the route it wants to take regarding its issues. The DA wants the ANC to ignore the wishes of its membership. The ANC will not take advice from its former oppressors on issues of democracy.

Hon Smuts, understand that the ANC has been voted into power by the majority of this country and the DA can voice their views in the committee, but the voice that will emerge is the voice of the party that was given mandate by the people through their votes. That party is the African National Congress and the ANC will not be intimidated to use that power.

You can jump up and down and scream, but their views, meaning your views, will not stand. They will of course enjoy the sympathy from the press and give them good media coverage and dominate the electronic media screens, because it is owned by the rich few whites. I am sorry, hon Smuts, you have to accept that white minority power is dead. If you want your voice to be heard, you must convince the masses to vote DA and forget about the ANC. The time for minority rule is over and outdated. This is a democracy in the making.

The ANC supports the amendments!

I thank you!

This is the prepared text of the speech by ANC MP, Lumka Yengeni, on the debate on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, Parliament, Cape Town, August 19 2008