16 things to set the SABC on a path to recovery – Phumzile Van Damme

DA says ANC's sudden awakening to chaos at broadcaster is bizarre and should be met with scepticism

16 things to set the SABC on a path to recovery

6 July 2016

The summoning of Communications Minister,  Faith Muthambi, and the SABC board to Luthuli House will not solve the public broadcaster's problems. It is likely to result in another whitewash as evidenced by Gwede Mantashe's "Gupta probe" 

Moreover, the SABC board does not report to Luthuli House, it accounts to Parliament, and their summoning to Luthuli House constitutes an infringement on the principle of the separation of party and state. 

The ANC’s sudden awakening to the chaos at the SABC is bizarre and should be met with much scepticism considering they are on record backing Motsoeneng and much of his censorship. Motsoeneng is because of the ANC. 

If the ANC is serious about fixing problems at the SABC, it would have at its press conference yesterday, called on the government to take steps that would set the SABC on a path to recovery.

The words from the Chair of the ANC’s Sub-Committee for Communications, Jackson Mthembu, will be nothing but hot air, unless before the week is done, and most certainly before 3 August, South Africa sees serious changes at the SABC.

In order to steer the SABC ship into calm waters, and repair the damage done by Motsoeneng, the DA believes the following steps need to be taken as a matter of urgency:

- Suspend SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and institute an independent and impartial disciplinary inquiry into Motsoeneng’s fitness to hold office;

- Suspend the SABC’s non-executive board members and Chairperson, Mbulayeni Maguvhe, for failing in their duties to hold the SABC’s management accountable;

- Suspended Acting CEO, and CFO of the SABC, James Aguma for providing financial backing for Motsoeneng’s censorship project;

- Drop the disciplinary charges against the SABC staffers suspended for speaking out against Motsoeneng;

- Advertise the positions of SABC COO and CFO requiring suitably qualified and impartial broadcasting professionals to head the SABC;

- Allow the Portfolio Committee on Communications to interview candidates to serve as an interim board until a new board is appointed;

- Provide full disclosure for the reasons for the suspension of SABC CEO, Frans Matlala, in November 2015;

- Reverse the approval of the SABC’s revised editorial policy, and conduct public consultation. It is the revised policy which gives SABC COO total control over the public broadcaster;

- Drop the SCA petition appealing the Western Cape High Court’s decision. The court had originally found that Motsoeneng’s appointment SABC COO was irrational and unlawful and thus set it aside;

- Implement the remedial action required by the Public Protector;

- Reverse the ban on the airing of footage of violent protests;

- Reverse the ban on the reading of newspaper headlines on SABC radio and TV stations;

- Reverse the canning of “The Editors” on SAFM;

- Reverse the canning of “Kommentaar”on RSG;

- Commit to providing equitable and fair coverage of all political parties on SABC stations ahead of the Local Government Election;

- Fire Faith Muthambi for failing to conduct proper oversight over the SABC.

The DA is committed to restoring the integrity of the SABC, and these are only the first steps that need to be taken to fix the public broadcaster, much more needs to be done.

The SABC can be the public broadcaster envisioned by the drafters of our Constitution, representing the cultures, religions and political views of all South Africa.

It is our duty to stop the rot at the SABC.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 6 July 2016