SABC Interim Board must restore stability as soon as possible – Phumzile van Damme

DA says first order of business must be to deal decisively with Motsoeneng

SABC Interim Board must hit the ground running to restore stability

27 March 2017

The DA welcomes the appointment of the SABC Interim Board by the President, and it will have to hit the ground running if it is to restore credibility and good governance at the public broadcaster.

Given that the Broadcasting Act stipulates that the interim board may only be appointed for a period of 6 months, it will do well to urgently focus on and effectively address the systemic issues that caused a complete collapse of good governance at the SABC.

The first order of business must be to deal decisively with the former acting-COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Specifically, and according to the Western Cape High court ruling, the interim board must within two weeks deliver a letter setting out the disciplinary charges against him, appoint a new chairperson to oversee the disciplinary proceedings and complete the process within two months.

The recommendations of the SABC inquiry report, adopted by most parties in the National Assembly, must be implemented. These include:

- Illegal amendments to the Memorandum of Incorporation must be identified and rectified, seeing as this document gave excessive power to Minister Faith Muthambi to further her political agenda.

- The Auditor General must immediately be approached to address all its findings relating to the R5.1 billlion in irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and to take the necessary steps against any officials who are responsible for or allowed such wasteful expenditure. It is crucial that financial stability be restored in the SABC;

- All questionable contracts, such as the ANN 7 agreement, which were discussed in the report by the SABC Ad Hoc Committee must be investigated, and if found to be unsound, terminated;

- All vital and currently vacant positions, including the top three executive positions (GCEO, COO, CFO) must be filled by qualified and experienced professionals who haven’t been captured, to ensure a sound human resource environment;

- The allegations that the State Security Agency has been spying on employees and intercepting communication must be urgently investigated to ensure that no employee is intimidated in the workplace;

- The remedial action set out in the 2014 Public Protector’s report “When Government and Ethics Fail” must be implemented; and

- All editorial policies which may have a negative effect on the SABC must be reviewed.

The Interim Board has a daunting task ahead of them. It is a tall task which will require steeled backbones, dedication, focus, fierce independence and withstanding any attempts of pressure to favour ANC-linked individuals.

We believed that by focusing on the points the DA have listed, the interim Board will begin steering the SABC in the right direction in ensuring that the SABC gets back to fulfilling in its mandate of providing quality entertainment and information the South African public.

We wish the SABC interim board well in the unenviable task ahead of them, we will do our role in keeping it accountable to the South African public.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 27 March 2017