n ANC study group meeting at which Communications Minister Faith Muthambi criticised communications portfolio chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa was the precursor to a portfolio committee meeting the following day at which the ANC changed its mind and dumped legal advice it had received on the dismissal of three board members.
ANC MPs who sit in the communications portfolio committee made a drastic U-turn last week and distanced themselves from Parliament’s legal opinion, which they had welcomed only a month earlier.
The legal opinion stated that any removal of an SABC board member that is not effected in line with the provision of the Broadcasting Act was invalid and unlawful.
Muthambi had earlier in the year informed the committee that she had followed the Companies Act in the removal of the three board members.
Parliament’s legal advice would, therefore, have invalidated her decision.
The trio was believed to have voted against the appointment of controversial chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in July last year.
According to ANC sources, at a meeting of the ANC’s study group on June 22, in preparation for the portfolio committee meeting, Muthambi came down hard on her ANC colleagues for opposing her and aligning themselves with the parliamentary legal opinion.
Sources say the meeting went on for four hours.
An MP who was part of the meeting told City Press: “It was a very difficult meeting. It could have been wrapped up in 20 minutes, but it started at 5.30pm and went on until 9.12pm, discussing this legal opinion.”
Muthambi allegedly clashed with MoloiMoropa for endorsing Parliament’s advice, and also accused her of having taken the side of the dismissed board members.
Muthambi allegedly complained that MoloiMoropa was communicating with Hope Zinde, one of the dismissed board members, behind her back and Moloi-Moropa was forced to apologise for this.
Members of the committee across the political party spectrum initially welcomed Parliament’s legal advice and resolved to call Muthambi to give her response to it.
On June 23, Muthambi dismissed Parliament’s legal advice, saying it contravened and offended the doctrine of separation of powers. She said Parliament’s role was to make laws – not to interpret them.
ANC MPs agreed with her, clearly changing their tune.
Moloi-Moropa did not attend the portfolio committee meeting the following morning and Dikeledi Tsotetsi chaired the meeting instead.
Muthambi’s spokesperson, Mishack Molakeng, denied that his boss bullied ANC MPs to change their views on the matter.
“I’m not sure what you mean by bullying. You provide no evidence of the allegations you make. I am, therefore, unwilling to comment on unsubstantiated allegations,” he said.
Moloi-Moropa did not want to comment “since I was not there when the portfolio committee concluded the matter”.
The SA Communist Party’s second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, said the ANC had to attend to the issue of how the MPs turned against Moloi-Moropa, who is a senior member of the SA Communist Party.