SABC's Aguma must be suspended after he lied – Phumzile van Damme

DA says Acting GCEO admitted to giving permission to Motsoeneng to host a press conference criticizing the public broadcaster

Aguma must be suspended after he lied to Parliament about the Hlaudi press briefing

17 May 2017

The DA calls on the SABC interim Board to immediately suspend James Aguma, as Acting GCEO of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and its permanent CFO for lying to Parliament.

Earlier today, the Deputy Chairperson of the SABC board, Mathatha Tsedu, revealed that Aguma admitted in an affidavit to giving permission to Hlaudi Motsoeneng to host his infamous press conference denigrating the SABC on 19 April 2017.

Yet, when I asked Aguma, on 26 April 2017 at a meeting of the Communications Portfolio committee, why he allowed Hlaudi to conduct the press conference, he claimed that he had no knowledge of it, that he was in fact in a meeting at the time and could therefore not prevent it.

Aguma's admission in an affidavit that he did, in fact, know about the press conference, and in fact gave his permission as Acting GCEO for it to go ahead, is proof that he lied to Parliament at the time, and may have also been lying to the SABC interim Board.

According to Section 17(2)(e) of the Powers and Privileges Act, a person may not “wilfully furnish a House or committees with information, or makes a statement before it, which is false or misleading”. This is a very serious issue and can result in a fine or up to two years in prison.

While the DA welcomes Aguma’s replacement today, as announced by Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, the fact is this is just while he is on sick leave, as confirmed by The Deputy Chairperson of the SABC board, Mathatha Tsedu.

Given his close proximity to crucial documents that could reveal the true extent of the financial mismanagement at the SABC, he could interfere in the investigation, and must, therefore, be suspended.

When asked by Tim Brauteseth, DA representative on SCOPA Minister Dlodlo refused to pronounce on whether Aguma should be suspended.

The DA believes that Aguma must be permanently removed as Acting CGEO, and suspended from the SABC in his permanent role as the public broadcaster's CFO, pending a forensic investigation and a disciplinary inquiry.

The DA calls on SABC interim board, in restoring the public's confidence in the SABC, to immediately suspend Aguma.

For years we've seen the deterioration of the SABC and it is time for the Minister and Interim Board to remove the institutional rot.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 17 May 2017