SABC Inquiry: Now the hard work begins – Phumzile van Damme

DA says It is disappointing that public broadcaster elected not to present itself to the committee to tell its side of the story

SABC Inquiry: now the hard work begins

15 December 2016

Now that the SABC parliamentary Ad Hoc committee has completed its hearings for this year, the hard work of putting together recommendations that will steer the SABC to calm waters begins.

Over the last seven days, members of the committee have met for up to 12 hours a day hearing testimony from witnesses describing deep set rot and complete collapse of good governance at the public broadcaster.

Amongst many other shocking revelations, the committee heard that:

- The SABC brought in the State Security Agency to investigate and intimidate staff;

- The SABC 8 continued to receive death threats, with no action from the Minister of Communications, the SABC board and management;

- The Gupta-owned New Age attempted to take over and “re-brand” the SABC’s news division;

- The SABC paid for the New Age’s breakfast briefings, an effective laundering of public money for the benefit of the Guptas;

- Hlaudi Motsoeneng appeared to have protection from President Jacob Zuma and threatened staff with an authority located in Pretoria;

- The SABC Chairperson, Mbulaheni Maguvhe, appeared to be completely oblivious of the major issues facing the SABC;

- Minister Muthambi interfered in the coverage of news and in the affairs of the board; and

- There was explicit and unprecedented bias in news coverage towards the ANC during the most recent local government elections.

It is disappointing that despite being given the opportunity to refute all claims, the SABC’s current executive team, under the leadership of Acting GCEO, James Aguma, elected not to present itself to the committee to tell its side of the story, and explain to the public how their license fees have been spent. We will push for this to happen early next year, along the expected appearances of former board Chairs, Ellen Tshabalala, and Dr Ben Ngubane.

We trust that the tough, no-holds barred manner in which the SABC Ad Hoc committee conducted hearings is a cautionary tale for all other SOEs. You will be caught. You will be held accountable. We trust that this is not a once-off occurrence and will happen in all other committees in Parliament.

The DA will now plough through the 577 documents provided by the SABC to Ad Hoc committee with the view of getting to the bottom of what has happened at the SABC, to devise concrete steps about what needs to happen to fix the SABC, and to hold those responsible accountable.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 15 December 2016