ANC in Parliament’s failure to act an endorsement of Motsoeneng - Phumzile Van Damme

DA says it is important that all South Africans stand up and fight to protect SABC

ANC in Parliament’s failure to act an endorsement of Motsoeneng 

19 July 2016

We are here today to picket in support of the four of the SABC 8 fired by Hlaudi Motsoeneng - Jacques Steenkamp, Krivani Pillay, Foeta Krige and Suna Venter.

These were hard-working, committed, journalists who committed the "sin" of standing up for the integrity of the SABC.

It is important that all of South Africa stands up and fights to protect the SABC. 

We must continue mass rolling action until the integrity of the SABC is restored. 

We are also here today to demand action from Parliament.

The DA had requested a special meeting of the Communications committee to discuss and find solutions for the governance crisis at the SABC caused by Hlaudi Motsoeneng. 

In terms of the Rules of the National Assembly, the Chief Whip of the Majority Party must approve such a request. 

The ANC’s Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, turned down our request.

In doing so Mthembu, has failed to give effect to his constitutional obligation as a Member of Parliament to hold government accountable.

In doing so, he and the ANC are complicit in the complete breakdown of good governance at the SABC.

In so doing he has made the institution of Parliament an accessory to this crime. 

His protestations in the media last week therefore ring hollow because no action has followed.

We will today handover a memorandum to the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, and Mr Jackson Mthembu’s parliamentary offices with the following demands some of which must be implemented by the Communications Committee, and others, Minister Muthambi:

- Agree to an immediate meeting of the Portfolio Committee of Communications.

- The immediate reinstatement of the four of the SABC 8 fired for no other reasons but for standing up for the integrity of the SABC.

- Drop the disciplinary charges against the rest of the SABC 8.

- Immediately implement ICASA’s decision reversing the ban on the airing of footage of violent protests. In his most flagrant contempt for our constitutional order; Mr Motsoeneng’s blatant defiance yesterday to implement ICASA’s decision in this regard, is unsurprising. It is just part of the trend by ANC cadres who show rank disrespect for all such institutions, including the office of the Public Protector.

- 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, Mbulaheni 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.

- 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 permanently appointed.

- Provide full disclosure of the goldenhandshake awarded to suspended SABC CEO, Frans Matlala.

- 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 as SABC COO was irrational and unlawful and thus set it aside.

- Implement the remedial action required by the Public Protector in the 2014 report.

- 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.

Failure to agree to these will see Jackson Mthembu in his fairly new role as the ANC’s Chief waste a valuable opportunity to safeguard Parliament in its oversight function.

He will be just like past ANC Chief Whips who have failed Parliament, failed the Constitution and failed the people of South Africa.

He must do what is right by not only Parliament, but by the SABC.

What is happening at the public broadcaster is prime example of the systemic party capture, which continues to take shape in our country. 

The SABC joins the long line of captured institutions, including the Hawks, the NPA and SARS, which serve, not the people of South Africa, but at the behest of President Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

Parliaments failure to act will make it complicit in the erosion of the independence of yet another public institution. 

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 19 July 2016