Tsha­bal­ala, Ngubane to face the mu­sic

Fri­day the 13th is the day of truth for for­mer SABC chair­per­sons when they are grilled by the ad hoc com­mit­tee

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

For­mer SABC board chair­per­sons Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tsha­bal­ala will be in the hot seat this Fri­day as they ap­pear as the last wit­nesses be­fore the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the pub­lic broad­caster. Vin­cent Smith, chair­per­son of the ad hoc com­mit­tee look­ing into the SABC, told City Press this week that the in­quiry would no longer re­sume on Tues­day as Ngubane and his lawyers re­quested a few more days to fi­nalise their prepa­ra­tions. “We have there­fore moved him and Tsha­bal­ala to Fri­day the 13th,” said Smith.

Fri­day’s hear­ings will be fol­lowed by the com­pi­la­tion of a draft re­port that will be sent to the SABC board’s three ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers – the group chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer (COO) – for com­ment.

“Our man­date has never been to get rid of [any­one] or to come to a con­clu­sion on just the board mem­bers as warm bod­ies. It is about com­pli­ance with the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor and com­pli­ance with hu­man re­source poli­cies. It was more than just about warm bod­ies and we won’t nar­row it down and say be­cause warm bod­ies have re­signed, we will stop…” said Smith. “Many things have re­vealed them­selves and we will have to com­ment on them and make rec­om­men­da­tions that the House will have to con­sider,” said Smith. Ngubane’s board was dis­solved by Par­lia­ment in March 2013 fol­low­ing whole­sale res­ig­na­tions by board mem­bers, some of whom were ac­cus­ing him of tak­ing “il­le­gal” and uni­lat­eral de­ci­sions with­out the ap­proval of the board. In Fe­bru­ary 2013, the SABC board, in Ngubane’s ab­sence, met and re­moved then act­ing COO Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, send­ing him back to his old post as the group ex­ec­u­tive of stake­holder re­la­tions and prov­inces. It ap­pointed vet­eran jour­nal­ist Mike Siluma to act as the pub­lic broad­caster’s COO.

Days later, Ngubane an­nounced Mot­soe­neng’s re­in­state­ment as COO, say­ing that Ngubane’s then deputy, Thami ka Plaatjie, who had chaired the board meet­ing that re­solved to re­move Mot­soe­neng, had made a mis­take in an­nounc­ing Mot­soe­neng’s re­moval.

Ka Plaatjie later with­drew the let­ter he wrote to then com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Dina Pule to tell her of Mot­soe­neng’s re­moval.

This prompted the SABC board to is­sue a me­dia state­ment say­ing it was re­gret­table for Ngubane to uni­lat­er­ally change a de­ci­sion taken at a “prop­erly con­sti­tuted meet­ing” of the board.

Ngubane and Ka Plaatjie re­signed shortly af­ter the saga, and six other board mem­bers, aligned to the ANC, also sub­mit­ted res­ig­na­tions a few days later.

Tsha­bal­ala will be fac­ing her sec­ond par­lia­men­tary in­quiry in just over two years. She never got to say a word the first time around, leav­ing that to her lawyers as she sought to stop the process. City Press ex­posed Tsha­bal­ala in 2014 as hav­ing lied about her aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Par­lia­ment launched an in­quiry into her qual­i­fi­ca­tions and af­ter months of de­lay­ing tac­tics from her side, she was found guilty of mis­con­duct for ly­ing to Par­lia­ment about her qual­i­fi­ca­tions and she re­signed. Mean­while, the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on com­mu­ni­ca­tion will be­gin the process to ap­point an in­terim SABC board fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of nonex­ec­u­tive board mem­bers over the past few months. Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Humphrey Max­eg­wana was not cer­tain whether the com­mit­tee would have to wait for the in­quiry into the SABC be­fore do­ing so, but told City Press that his com­mit­tee would be ready any time it is called upon to pro­vide names for the in­terim board. Max­eg­wana said at its next meet­ing on Jan­uary 24, which is an or­di­nary meet­ing, the com­mit­tee would talk about get­ting ready for the names as a way of start­ing up the process. “We will have to come up with the five names and then wait as to whether we will be called to the House to present the names,” he said.

HOT SEAT Ellen Tsha­bal­ala

QUIZZED Ben Ngubane

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