Kr­ish Naidoo con­firms he’s the third SABC board mem­ber to quit in spat

The Witness - - NEWS -

THREE SABC board mem­bers have re­signed amid al­le­ga­tions of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure be­ing put on the board.

News24 has seen the res­ig­na­tion let­ters of Kr­ish Naidoo, deputy chair­per­son Khany­isile Kweyama and DA-nom­i­nee John Mat­ti­son.

Naidoo con­firmed to News24 that he re­signed on Tues­day. “I wasn’t plan­ning on re­sign­ing un­til yes­ter­day lunchtime.”

He said he had come to the re­al­i­sa­tion that there was no point in stay­ing on.

“As I said in my let­ter, the in­abil­ity of some of the board mem­bers to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween cor­po­rate in­de­pen­dence, ac­count­abil­ity and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence has led to a break­down in the re­la­tion­ship with the min­is­ter. That was my turn­ing point.

“I would rather use my en­ergy in sav­ing the SABC than fight­ing gov­ern­ment,” he said.

The SABC, in a short state­ment, said it had “noted” re­ports that three mem­bers of its board had re­signed and re­ferred all queries to the Pres­i­dency. It de­nied that its group chief ex­ec­u­tive Madoda Mx­akwe had also re­signed.

The res­ig­na­tions fol­low a strained meet­ing be­tween the board, newly-ap­pointed Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams and her deputy, Pinky Kekana, last Thurs­day.

The bat­tle be­tween the board and gov­ern­ment over loom­ing re­trench­ments at the pub­lic broad­caster came to a head dur­ing the meet­ing and an­other source close to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­istry told News24 the res­ig­na­tions were in protest against some of the board mem­bers’ treat­ment of the min­is­ter at the sit­ting. A let­ter in which Nd­abeni-Abra­hams states her in­ten­tion to stop en­gag­ing with the board over a dis­pute re­gard­ing planned re­trench­ments was leaked to the me­dia over the week­end.

Nd­abeni-Abra­hams said she had been forced to cut ties with the board af­ter the meet­ing and would “re­port this im­passe to the pres­i­dent, Par­lia­ment and all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers”, City Press re­ported the let­ter as say­ing over the week­end.

“The board made it clear at the meet­ing that, ir­re­spec­tive of the success of [a] gov­ern­ment guar­an­tee or bailout, they will still pro­ceed with re­trench­ments. As the share­holder rep­re­sen­ta­tive, we were left with no op­tion but to de­sist from all en­gage­ments with the SABC board,” she wrote.

The SABC em­barked on a process to cut jobs by 980 staff and more than 1 200 free­lancers in an ef­fort to stem the fi­nan­cial cri­sis it finds it­self in.

The broad­caster needs at least R3 bil­lion to stave off a March 2019 D-day, when it will find it­self un­able to pay salaries or bills.

Sources close to the board again con­firmed City Press re­ports that the meet­ing be­tween the min­is­ter and the board was highly charged, with Nd­abeni-Abra­hams seem­ingly ar­riv­ing with the ex­press in­ten­tion of putting a stop to re­trench­ments.

The SABC’s cur­rent salary bill is push­ing a pro­jected R2,7 bil­lion for the 2018/2019 fi­nan­cial year, which equates to roughly 40% of its rev­enue.

“We re­alised that the board was no longer act­ing in the in­ter­ests of the com­pany, the share­holder, and Par­lia­ment as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of [the] South African pub­lic to which the SABC board is ac­count­able,” said Nd­abeni-Abra­hams.

She added that the board had flatly re­fused to al­low her time to fa­mil­iarise her­self with the turn­around strat­egy and re­trench­ment plans. This is at odds with an­other para­graph in the let­ter which states the board will “re­view the pace and quantum of the im­pact of the [re­trench­ments] should fund­ing be found”.

— News24.

“We re­alised that the board was no longer act­ing in the in­ter­ests of the com­pany, the share­holder, and Par­lia­ment as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of [the] South African pub­lic to which the SABC board is ac­count­able.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.