SABC: Zuma faces EFF le­gal ac­tion

Party says he’s stalling on nam­ing per­ma­nent board

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - LE­BO­GANG SEALE

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’

SABC source

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