The almost two-week governance hiatus at the SABC has raised concerns that the moves towards cleaning house and stabilising the public broadcaster are pawns in broader political machinations.

“We’re concerned that President Zuma is deliberately delaying the appointment of the new board for political reasons, leaving an unacceptable gap in governance at the SABC.”

Worries were also expressed publicly by trade union Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) in an open letter, and by the SABC8, the journalists who were expelled but reinstatement after raising their concerns.

“We believe that a recapture project of the public broadcaster is afoot,” said the SABC8 open letter in support of Bemawu. “We will not allow our short-lived, recently gained freedom of expression to be rolled back…” said the SABC8, calling on Parliament to hold the executive to account and ensure the new permanent board is appointed. “We wish to inform the executive arm of the state that we do not belong to them but to the people of South Africa via their public representatives – the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa,” their open letter said. 

And on Tuesday the communications committee decided it should hear from the SABC8 and Bemawu, as Dlodlo interjected that if that was the MPs’ decision, they had to also hear from others who wrote to them.

The minister appeared on the back foot over the delays on appointing the SABC board, and her role in it. “If I am requested to assist, and I see nothing untoward (in this), that is exactly what I will do,” she told MPs. And on the issue of stalled appointments of executives – the SABC is currently run by acting CEO, chief financial and chief operations officers – Dlodlo said the interim board had not, as required, submitted the job specs to her for approval ahead of time. And the pool of six names for her selection did not meet the necessary television, radio and managerial standards. 

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