‘Res­ig­na­tions set SABC back years’

Con­cern as board mem­bers quit

Sowetan - - News - By Mpho Sibany­oni and Isaac Mahlangu

Vet­eran jour­nal­ist Mathatha Tsedu yesterday be­came the fourth SABC board mem­ber to jump ship amid al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties re­lat­ing to a ten­der worth R183m.

It is al­leged that the pub­lic broad­caster, while it was be­ing led by an in­terim board chaired by Khany­isile Kweyama, ir­reg­u­larly awarded the se­cu­rity ser­vices ten­der to Mafoko Pa­trols Se­cu­rity de­spite the com­pany com­ing sec­ond best to Mjayeli Se­cu­rity.

The mat­ter is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit. The unit’s Mahlodi Muofhe was last night un­avail­able for com­ment.

Yesterday, the pres­i­dency con­firmed that it had ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tions of Kweyama, Kr­ish Naidoo, John Mati­sonn and Tsedu – all of whom had also served on the in­terim board.

The Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers’ Union (CWU) wel­comed the ex­o­dus of the board, how­ever, it warned that it could desta­bilise the trou­bled SABC. CWU gen­eral sec­re­tary Aubrey Tsha­bal­ala, whose union has been at log­ger­heads with the board over its aim to re­trench work­ers, said the board mem­bers made their own lives dif­fi­cult by fail­ing to co­op­er­ate with new com­mu­ni­ca­tions minister Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams.

“The board left an axe hang­ing over the work­ers. How­ever, we are happy with the stance of the minister in re­la­tion to re­trench­ments. We don’t think they should pro­ceed with the re­trench­ments,” Tsha­bal­ala said. The board had wanted to re­trench al­most 1,000 per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees and 1,200 free­lancers.

Me­dia Mon­i­tor­ing Africa’s Wil­liam Bird said what was hap­pen­ing at the SABC was a “de­lib­er­ately en­gi­neered cri­sis to col­lapse the board, the ques­tion that must be asked is why? Why col­lapse an in­de­pen­dent board?”

Bird said the board had shown that it was in­de­pen­dent and the govern­ing party didn’t like that. He cited the gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to grant the cash-strapped SABC a bailout as an ex­am­ple of its un­hap­pi­ness with the board.

“When you can give SAA a bailout when you know it’s a bot­tom­less pit, and [at the SABC] it’s not a bailout but a guar­an­tee. This is a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy to col­lapse the board.

“... the fact that the rul­ing party is pre­pared to go to these lengths to desta­bilise the SABC ahead of the elec­tions is a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy. You then get an in­terim board and that will be peo­ple who have spines as soft as bal­loons.”

Save Our SABC coali­tion’s Duduet­sang Makuse said: “Gov­ern­ment should have made sure that the cur­rent board has the re­sources to turn the SABC around; this is tak­ing us 15 years back.”

Khany­isile Kweyama

Mathatha Tsedu

John Mati­sonn

Kr­ish Naidoo

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