PRETORIA, October 8 – President Jacob Zuma on Sunday denied that the lengthy delay in the appointment of the new South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board members recommended by the National Assembly is because he has “certain preferences or does not like” certain candidates.
The presidency was concerned about the “rumours and gossip” that continued to flourish with regards to the SABC board appointments, the presidency said in a statement.
The “rumours” reported by the media that the appointments had not been made yet because Zuma had “certain preferences or does not like certain candidates or that he has an interest in the appointment of SABC executives are mischievous and are without foundation”, it said.
The Broadcasting Act enjoined the president as the appointing authority to ensure that persons recommended for appointment as members of the SABC board should meet certain requirements, including citizenship and to have no criminal records. In addition, the presidency wanted to ensure that the candidates indeed possessed the qualifications stated in their CVs among other “routine pre-appointment checks”.
“Past experience taught us that the presidency should undertake due diligence despite the process followed in the National Assembly,” the presidency said.
On Saturday, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accused Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo of tarnishing its reputation after she stated that the qualification verification process of permanent SABC board members was delayed.
SAQA CEO Joe Samuels said Dlodlo’s department was supplied with the requested information within the two-day deadline. ”The SAQA would like to put it on record that it verified the qualifications of persons recommended to serve on the SABC board within the requested two days. This is contrary to some reports that stated that SAQA had missed the Thursday, 5 October 2017 deadline,” Samuels said.
He said SAQA received the written request to verify board members’ qualifications from the department of communications on Tuesday October 3 at 1.48pm and by 9.30am on Thursday October 5 SAQA had completed the work and submitted the outcome to the department. ”SAQA also confirmed twice through telephone [calls] that the officials within the department had received the information before 10am on the same day,” he said.
This followed after Dlodlo announced this week that the verification process would be completed within two days, but that did not mean that the long-awaited board would be appointed by Zuma within the two days. She defended Zuma amid accusations from the Democratic Alliance and others that he was delaying the appointment process.
Parliament completed the intensive interviews of candidates for the new board three weeks prior to the interim board’s of term of office expired on September 26 and submitted its recommended board members’ list to Zuma to make the appointments.
On Sunday, City Press reported that Zuma and Dlodlo had been accused of deliberately delaying the appointment of the board to make their own appointments as far as the strategic positions of chief operating officer, chief executive officer, and chief financial officer go – without the board’s input.
Sources close to the process have told City Press that Dlodlo and the now defunct interim board, headed by businesswoman Khanyisile Kweyama, fought over the recommended names for these positions after the minister insisted on being given the initial short list that the board had drawn up. Interviews for these positions were completed by the interim board in August.
These board members told the parliamentary committee during interviews that the candidates had been high-calibre professionals with impressive CVs and qualifications. They said at the time that they hoped the top executives would be appointed by the time their term expired, the newspaper reported.
It is alleged that Dlodlo wants to ram through her preferred candidates, while the ANC’s deployment committee also wants to have a say in who occupies the three strategic positions. Board members refused to give her the names and accused her of changing goalposts and making impossible demands. But Dlodlo stuck to her guns until the term of the board expired.
But now, the fact that the five members of the interim board are back on the recommended list to Zuma has created a new problem for the minister as they will be involved in finalising the appointments when the new board convenes. According to sources, this had necessitated Zuma delaying signing off of the board, City Press reported.
According to the Broadcasting Act, which governs the SABC, the president has no say in the selection process of the corporation’s board members. His only roles are to officially appoint the 12 non-executives whose names have been forwarded to him by the National Assembly and to determine who among them will be chairperson and deputy chairperson.