SABC is fi­nally hauled in

CityPress - - Voices -

Par­lia­ment fi­nally took a no-non­sense stand against the SABC when its ad hoc com­mit­tee – set up to in­quire into the board’s fit­ness to hold of­fice – tack­led the pub­lic broad­caster head on this week.

The com­mit­tee held firm even as SABC board chair­per­son Mbu­la­heni Magu­vhe – the only re­main­ing nonex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber – des­per­ately tried to re­sist ac­count­abil­ity by go­ing to court to try to stop the in­quiry from go­ing ahead.

When the court turned him down, he and his SABC cronies tried to crip­ple the com­mit­tee’s in­quiry by re­fus­ing to hand over cru­cial doc­u­ments and walk­ing out. But keep­ing their dig­nity, the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans stood firm.

For too long, Magu­vhe and SABC strong­man Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng have cocked a snook at every­one who has high­lighted the ir­reg­u­lar and im­proper man­ner in which the broad­caster is be­ing run.

Even this week, as their world was crum­bling around them, th­ese SABC bosses cheek­ily held a two-hour press con­fer­ence, where they sought to show they were un­shaken and still in charge.

But the in­quiry has laid bare the abuse of power and the in­volve­ment of politi­cians in run­ning the SABC’s af­fairs, which ex­plains the un­bri­dled ar­ro­gance and im­punity demon­strated on a reg­u­lar ba­sis by Mot­soe­neng and his crew.

It has also ex­posed the hid­den hand of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi in the chaos. Her fa­mous state­ment – “uBaba loves Hlaudi” – was un­packed to show that Mot­soe­neng acted in the way he did be­cause he be­lieved he had Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s pro­tec­tion.

Zuma has be­lat­edly tried to ad­mon­ish the ar­ro­gant SABC ex­ec­u­tive body, say­ing they should sub­ject them­selves to Par­lia­ment ac­count­abil­ity.

De­spite his hav­ing al­lowed this soap opera to play out, un­hin­dered, for so long, the pres­i­dent can still make a dif­fer­ence – by com­pelling Muthambi, who ac­counts to him, to play a more con­struc­tive role in re­build­ing this in­sti­tu­tion.

Hav­ing taken charge now, Par­lia­ment must use this op­por­tu­nity to put in place in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nisms to en­sure the pub­lic broad­caster never again falls into the hands of a few.

It is time to re­turn the SABC to its proper man­date of serv­ing the ma­jor­ity, rather than be­ing servile to the po­lit­i­cally con­nected.

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