Faith Muthambi contradicts herself - Gavin Davis

DA MP says ministry's statement tacitly admits that Minister has indeed written to certain SABC board members

Muthambi contradicting herself on SABC Board interference

The statement issued today by Minister Muthambi on ministerial interference in the SABC Board contradicts what she said yesterday.

Yesterday, the Minister denied interfering in the SABC Board and denied that she was considering suspending certain members. 

Today, the Minister says that the SABC's Memorandum of Incorporation mandates her to "play an oversight role" and to "interrogate the conduct of Board members". Furthermore, she states that any correspondence between her and Board Members is "private and confidential."

This is a tacit admission that the Minister has indeed written to certain Board Members regarding their conduct and continued employment at the SABC.

The DA maintains that such interference in the SABC Board is unlawful. The Broadcasting Act is quite clear that it is the function of the Communications Portfolio Committee to undertake any inquiry into the conduct of SABC Board Members. This was the process followed in respect of former SABC Board Chairperson Ellen Tshabalala.

In other words, an inquiry into the conduct of a Board Member needs to be an open process in Parliament. It cannot be a closed process that happens in the Minister's office.

It is worth noting that the Minister's sole reliance on the SABC's Memorandum of Incorporation/Articles of Association to interpret her role vis-à-vis the SABC Board is problematic. As section 1.5.1 of the Articles states:

"If the provisions of these articles are in any way inconsistent with the provisions of the [Broadcasting] Act, the provisions of the Act shall prevail, and these articles shall be read in all respects subject to the Act."

So it is quite clear that it is the Broadcasting Act that must be followed when there are allegations of misconduct against a Board Member, not the SABC's Memorandum of Incorporation.

The DA re-iterates its call for Minister Muthambi to appear before the Portfolio Committee to explain her interference in the SABC Board. I submitted a written request to this effect to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, yesterday. 

We trust that Ms. Moloi-Moropa will agree that the Minister cannot, and must not, usurp the functions of the Portfolio Committee in respect of the SABC Board.

Statement issued by Gavin Davis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, January 14 2015

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