SABC advice: law firm in crosshairs
THE LAW firm that advised the SABC on the parliamentary inquiry into its affairs could be in hot water when the ad hoc committee meets today.
This committee is expected to discuss, among others, action to be taken against the attorneys who advised the board and former board chairperson Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe.
The parliamentary legal team is expected to give advice that can be pursued by the institution against the firm.
Committee chairperson Vincent Smith said there was not just bad legal advice given to the board by the law firm, but they were “obstructionist”.
“I need you to give us some advice on it. I made an undertaking at the time that they owe Parliament big time. It’s payback time,” Smith said.
Maguvhe had attempted to interdict the committee on the advice of the law firm, but failed when the Western Cape High Court ruled against him and ordered him to personally pay for the legal costs.
In one of the letters sent to the committee, the SABC lawyers indicated that the public broadcaster would co-operate partially in its request to submit key documents.
He had reportedly said some of the documents were either not in the SABC’s commercial interests to reveal or not in the broadcaster’s possession.
These had included those relating to the appointment of former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng to group executive of corporate affairs and the contract entered into with MultiChoice.
The SABC subsequently handed over 400 documents to the committee. Although the MultiChoice documents were initially described as “commercially sensitive”, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had reportedly contradicted the SABC during her testimony.
But it emerged last week that parts of the MultiChoice contract had been blacked out.
At the time, Smith said the legal adviser to the board was wasting taxpayers’ money and delaying the inquiry. Smith had raised questions on what authority and capacity the lawyer represented the broadcaster when it was no longer forming a quorum and could not take decisions.
He also said it was clear “there was consistent bad advice given to the chair of the board… I need the legal team to look at it.” The committee has also warned about those who may have made false statements in oral evidence.