MPS voice dis­may at eight SABC board va­can­cies

Saturday Star - - NATION - MARY JANE MPHAHLELE

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.

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