The Communications Committee in Parliament has received more than 360 applications of persons who want to serve on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) permanent board.
This was revealed by Committee Chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana. The committee was also briefed by the SABC Interim Board on the progress made on the implementation of the Ad Hoc Committee report into the affairs of the SABC.
A new permanent board for the SABC is expected to be in place by the time the Interim Board’s term of office comes to an end next month. The deadline for nominations and applications was 30 June.
Maxegwana explained how many people have applied and how the selection process will unfold.
“Next week we will be starting the process of shortlisting and thereafter interviews as the committee. Up to now by the time of the deadline of the 30th we received 362 applications. The office of the chair is working on summarising who has what in terms of qualifications and who meets the criteria and then that will be presented to the committee next week.”
Kweyama also told the committee that they are currently seeking legal advice on how to hold implicated former board members and staff liable for illegal decisions that led to irregular and wasteful expenditure
Soon after giving a report back on the nominations, it was the turn of the Interim Board to present its progress report. The board told Members of Parliament that it has already terminated two irregular contracts, suspended a third one and the fourth one is under review.
Interim Board Chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama said that action emanated from the sixth recommendation of the Ad Committee that the board should institute independent forensic investigations into irregular and questionable contracts. Some of them include the Morning Live/ New-Age Breakfast show and the Multi-Choice archive deal.
“The Interim Board has terminated the contracts with Lorna Vision and ANN7. Lorna Vision was the TV license collection and ANN7 was the breakfast. The contract with SekelaXabiso which had also been employed to look at the fruitless and wasteful expenditure is on suspension. The Multi-Choice contract is under review on the ground that the important aspects of it are a disadvantage to the SABC and are contrary to public interest.”
Kweyama also told the committee that they are currently seeking legal advice on how to hold implicated former board members and staff liable for illegal decisions that led to irregular and wasteful expenditure.
She says recovering losses due to unlawful decisions is one of the recommendations in the Ad Hoc Committee Report.
“Recommendation number eight was to take appropriate action against current and former employees and board members who are found to have been complicit in the SABC incurring wasteful expenditure as a result of irregular activities. The Interim Board is seeking legal opinion on the liability of board members, officials, group executives and employees who participated in meetings where decisions were taken that are contrary to the policies of the corporation as well as the legislative framework governing the SABC.”
However the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is not happy saying the Interim Board should move with speed to lay criminal charges against those who were implicated. In addition EFF member of the committee Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also said some journalists were not innocent in some of the wrongdoings at the SABC.
“By the way it is not just instructions and intimidation that journalists are receiving. It is also journalists that are very manipulative that were gladly participating, so we have got to balance that scale. There are journalists that were not doing proper things in there and I hope that the perspective would be balanced in that sense. It is not just management but also there are journalists who were complicit who were participating willingly in wrong things.”
One of the questions raised by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Phumzile van Damme relates to the secrecy around the bailout figure requested by the SABC.
“We haven’t been told how much it is that the SABC is required from National Treasury. I know that the Minister has said that information must not be given out but now I am asking you as the board, as the body to which you report, which is Parliament. Can we be told how much is it that the SABC required from National Treasury? I would not be satisfied with the answer that the Minister has said, don’t give that information. You as the board report to us.”
Van Damme’s question was not answered. A decision was taken by the Committee Chair to save the question to the Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
“I think the minister will respond to the question.”
During the meeting, Kweyama also confirmed that axed former Head of Corporate Affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng is challenging his dismissal and that the matter will be heard soon.
“Yes Mr Motsoeneng has taken his dismissal to the CCMA and I think in the next day or so, there will be an appearance with the SABC being present.”
Other questions that the Interim Board was facing included what action they have taken against those managers who were allegedly referred to as Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s enforcers by the late SABC 8 journalists Suna Venter who recommended to the Ad Hoc Committee that they be investigated.
The EFF also wanted to know what were the benefits that Jimi Matthews received after resigning under a cloud at the SABC and the ANC was interested in among other things,- the relationship between the Interim Board and labour.