SABC: Zuma faces EFF legal action
Party says he’s stalling on naming permanent board
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma could yet again be dragged before court, this time for allegedly stalling the appointment of a permanent SABC board. This comes after the EFF, through its lawyers, wrote to him and gave him an ultimatum to appoint the board or risk facing legal action as early as next week.
In the letter sent to Zuma on Thursday, the EFF raises concern that the SABC has been without a board for two weeks, despite Parliament having recommended the permanent appointment of the former interim board members over a month ago.
“We demand that the president should appoint members of the board of the SABC from the National Assembly’s recommended names, after a due process, no later than close of business on Monday, October 9, 2017.
“Should the president fail to do so, the EFF will immediately institute legal proceedings before the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis, seeking declaratory orders,” the letter reads in part.
Presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga had not responded to questions on the EFF’s ultimatum at the time of publication. Pressure has been mounting on Zuma to appoint a permanent board since the interim board’s six-month term ended almost two weeks ago.
On Thursday last week, Zuma said he needed to satisfy himself that the interim board members “are fit and proper persons to serve on the board” and that he needed to verify their qualifications.
Pretoria News Weekend can reveal that all the former interim board members were requested to submit certified copies of proof of their qualifications and other relevant documents this past Monday.
Almost a week later, the SABC is still without a board. This was despite the SA Qualification Authority confirming yesterday that it had completed the verification process and submitted the outcome to the Department of Communications on Thursday.
It has been reported that Zuma was stalling on appointing a permanent board because he doesn’t trust the chairperson, Khanyisile Kweyama, and deputy chairperson Mathatha Tsedu. However, Com- munications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo is allegedly also a stumbling block in the appointment of the board.
“She (Dlodlo) tried to convince the (Parliament’s communications portfolio) committee not to appoint the entire interim board. And when she failed, she said she can work with the other three members (of the top 5) and not the chair and deputy,” said a source familiar with the developments leading up to the recommendation of the interim board by Parliament.
Should Zuma not appoint the interim board permanently, he might find it difficult trying to justify that, according to insiders. “Obviously the president didn’t get his board out of Parliament, so he now sits with the problem of disappointing Khanyi who chased his (Zuma’s) little boys out of town (SABC headquarters).”
The source was referring to the likes of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and chief financial officer James Aguma, among others.
“It’s a tough balancing act as he doesn’t want the chairperson and the deputy, and the minister also doesn’t like them. She wants to run the SABC and needs a board that will just ‘say yes minister’.”
Dlodlo denied that she tried to prevent Parliament from recommending the interim board, saying she had “a professional and cordial relationship with all” its members.
It remains to be seen if Zuma will comply with the EFF’s demand and avert legal action. The EFF letter states it will approach the Concourt to compel the president to appoint the interim board members or alternatively, appoint them as members of the SABC board of directors. “As things stand, the acting group chief executive officer (GCEO) of the SABC is, in terms of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, the accounting authority. In other words, the GCEO reports to himself without any oversight on his/her duties.”
The EFF is also concerned that “with the history of maladministration and abuse of power by the SABC executive management, the president’s inordinate delay has placed the SABC at risk of looting and capture”.
Dlodlo is widely seen as taking issues at the SABC more seriously than her predecessor Faith Muthambi, but sources alleged she too has an inclination to interfere in the operations of the SABC. She has denied this, saying she was “aware that that is out of my jurisdiction”.
She (Dlodlo) wants to run the SABC and needs a board that will just say ‘yes minister’