In The News South Africa

Battle for appointment of 5-member SABC interim board begins

Seventeen names were presented by MPs for nomination to an interim South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board on Tuesday.

During a meeting of Parliament portfolio committee on communications, the ANC nominated eight people. They included Mathata Tsedu, a veteran journalist and Wits journalism professor, and three former board members; Krish Naidoo, Rachel Kalidass and David Niddrie – who have been highly critical of how the embattled broadcaster had been run.

Krish Naidoo stunned MPs by resigning during a portfolio committee meeting in October last year, saying the board was dysfunctional and that he and other board members who were opposed to the irregular appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer despite adverse findings against him by the Public Protector were ostracised.

Naidoo, a lawyer, said his advice to the SABC board and executive was often ignored.

Rachel Kalidass is another ANC nominee for the interim board. She was unceremoniously removed from the board along with the late Hope Zinde and Ronnie Lubisi in 2015, after raising similar concerns to that of Naidoo regarding Motsoeneng.

Some believe their dismissal was illegal as the Broadcasting Act states only the appointing authoriy, President Jacob Zuma, can remove board members on a recommendation from the National Assembly

David Niddrie, another former board member who resigned in protest in 2010 also made it onto the ruling party’s list. In his resignation letter, he blames parliamentarians and the minister of communications for not providing support to the board and not performing their oversight duties properly.

The other four ANC nominees are Febe Potgieter-Nqubule, former deputy chief of staff of African Union Commission, Sulungeka Dazana, former actress and television host, Khanyisile Kweyama, former Business Unity South Africa chief executive, and Steve Motale, Citizen editor.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted five names, including another veteran journalist, John Mattison, a University of Cape town professor of media studies, Tanja Bosch, and Mpumelelo Mkhabela, former South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) chairman. The DA also reserved a place on its list for Jack Devnarain, an actor best known for playing Rajesh Kumar on South African Soapie Isidigngo. He is also the national chairman of the SA Guild of Actors. Michael Markovitz, a media consultant and chairman of Primedia Digital, completed the DA’s wishlist.

Next up was the Congress of the People (Cope) who presented a list on behalf of several other smaller parties, including the United Democratic Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Cope MP Willie Madisha, said the names on his list was supported by his own party and several other smaller parties. They chose Dumile Mateza, a popular SABC sports commentator, Xolisa Mpeqeka, Moses Maraladi and Pearl Luthuli, a former SABC executive who resigned in 2009 claiming she was sick of being part of a lame duck executive.

The SABC has been without a board since Mbulaheni Maguvhe, or the “last man standing” as one judge put it, resigned following his disastrous testimony before a parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the embattled broadcaster. The inquiry was completed last week, with MPs on that ad hoc committee report finalising its report with recommendations.

In terms of the law, MPs can recommend a five member interim board, which would serve for a maximum of six months.

MPs are set to negotiate over the next few days in a bid to reach some consensus over the five successful candidates.

A meeting is scheduled for next week Tuesday, but MPs said it was unlikely they would agree on the five names by then, before its sent to the National Assembly for approval and ultimately to President Jacob Zuma, who does the official appointment.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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