SABC ad­vice: law firm in crosshairs

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA mayibongwe.maqhina@inl.co.za

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.

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