MPS voice dismay at eight SABC board vacancies
PARLIAMENT says it is concerned about the resignations of four board members at the cash-strapped SABC amid a probe by the Special Investigations Unit which has left the state broadcaster with eight vacancies and no solid leadership.
Last week, the SABC was rocked by the resignations of Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama, John Mattison and Mathatha Tsedu who made up the interim board that was appointed last year to resolve challenges at the public broadcaster.
Chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications Hlengiwe Mkhize said though the committee is troubled by the resignations, the vacancies will have to be filled urgently.
“The committee is concerned about the fact that not only do the resignations come at a time when it was in a process of filling the other four vacancies, but also they left the remaining board without a quorum.
“Therefore, it urged the executive management to steer the public broadcaster in the best interest of the country and in accordance with legislations while the committee moves with speed to fill all the eight vacancies,” said Mkhize.
The SABC was sitting with four vacancies before last week’s resignations, which were created when Rachel Kalidass, Victor Rambau, Febe Potgieter-gqubule resigned and the withdrawal of Nomvuyiso Batyi.
Reports over the week have suggested that the resignations may have been in connection with an SIU report probing an irregular security tender which cost the SABC R185 million.
The investigation forms part of the SIU’S two-phase inquiry into irregular spending at the state broadcaster.
In June 2017, a contract was awarded to Mafoko Security Patrols even though the company came second in the bidding process.
Trade unions have however said the resignations by the four board members should not absolve them from accountability should they be found wanting with regards to the SIU probe.
CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said: “We have raised questions on the contracts at SABC, of people signing contracts that cost about R185 million on the security tender, and the contract that prefers European soccer over the local soccer.
“These were the things that happened under this board. We think that resignation must not be a way of running away from accountability,” said Tshabalala.
It is envisaged that 981 employees may possibly be retrenched as a result of the restructuring across the SABC. Out of the 2400 freelancers, 1200 will be affected.
With eight vacancies, the SABC board will not quorate to take crucial decisions. The state broadcaster is currently engaging with trade unions and workers on possible retrenchments.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme however said that the board cannot quorate, does not mean it will be Cabinet will convene a special meeting in January to discuss the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, according to government sources. This follows the presentation of the Bill to Cabinet on Thursday, where state law advisers assured members that the Bill did not contravene the Constitution. dissolved without a parliamentary inquiry.
“We, therefore, plead with board members who remain to stay on the board and provide stability to SABC until the vacancies are filled. It is crucial that the vacancies are urgently filled as stability in the SABC is imperative. This board should be filled with individuals who not only have the requisite experience and qualifications but are also committed to protecting the SABC’S independence and are above reproach,” said Van Damme.
While it was expected that newly appointed Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-abrahams would comment on the resignations, her office yesterday said she was still consulting other entities in the portfolio committee.