NEWSWATCH: Bekezela Phakathi, writing in BD Live, says the resignation of Professor Bongani Khumalo from the SABC board is just the 'tip of the iceberg', and DA Shadow Minister of Communications Gavin Davis wants answers from Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi on allegations that she is interfering unlawfully in the SABC board's business.
Professor Bongani Khumalo's resignation from the SABC board: Is meddling by Muthambi a contributing reason for his departure? (Image extracted from YouTube)
BD Live: Khumalo's resignation from SABC board seen as 'tip of the iceberg'... When Professor Bongani Khumalo confirmed on Monday that he had resigned from the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), he declined to provide reasons. He simply said that the matter was "between me and the minister". He is reported, however, to have said that he will reveal his reasons for leaving in due course.
Meanwhile, however, Phakathi reports that 'an SABC insider said board members were unhappy about Communications Minister Faith Muthambi's interference with its functions' and that among the many issues on which the board differed included the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operations officer. Phakathi says the insider said that Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi 'had "lobbied" for the appointment of Motsoeneng' and that there is "general unhappiness" at the board.
Phakathi writes that Khumalo's resignation is the "tip of the iceberg", and 'more resignations could follow mainly because of "factionalism and unhappiness that the minister constantly interferes in board matters".'
Muthambi must explain unlawful interference in SABC Board
Gavin Davis, Shadow Minister of Communications, wants answers from Muthambi...
Gavin Davis, Shadow Minister of Communications wants answers. (Image: Democratic Alliance)
"The DA understands from several sources that Minister Faith Muthambi has written to certain SABC Board Members requesting that they give her reasons why they should not be suspended. They have been given until 15 January 2015 to respond.
"As a result, one of the Board Members, Professor Bongani Khumalo, has reportedly resigned.
"It is not clear what led to the letter being sent or why certain SABC Board Members are being targeted by the Minister, although it appears to be residual fall-out from the Minister's appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as Chief Operations Officer."
Davis says, "Such ministerial interference in the SABC Board is manifestly unlawful. According to the Broadcasting Act, it is the President who appoints the Board on the recommendation of the Portfolio Committee. The Minister has no lawful role in the appointment or removal of Board Members and therefore has no right to threaten Board Members with suspension.
Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi... constantly interfering in board matters? (Image: GCIS)
"I have today [Tuesday] written to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, to request that Minister Muthambi is called to the Committee to explain:
Why she is unlawfully interfering in processes relating to the appointment and removal of SABC Board Members; Why she is targeting certain SABC Board Members; and What she hopes to achieve by further destabilising an SABC Board still reeling from the Ellen Tshabalala scandal.
"Such bullyboy tactics are fast becoming the hallmark of Minister Muthambi's tenure in the Communications Portfolio," says Davis:
In July last year, the Minister personally went to the SABC's offices to strong-arm the Board into recommending the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as COO, despite the Public Protector's damning findings against him; It emerged in October that the Minister had sent a letter to councillors at the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa giving them a month to vacate their offices. This was in contravention of the ICASA Act, which gives the Minister no such authority; and It was reported in December that the Minister - through the Government Communication and Information System or GCIS - is threatening to withdraw government advertising from newspapers that do not toe the ANC line."
Davis writes, "Every time Minister Muthambi unlawfully interferes in an independent entity, she cements the perception that she was appointed to build a propaganda machine for the Zuma faction of the ANC.
"We hope that the Chair of the Portfolio Committee will agree that this political interference needs to be dealt with in the same way the Committee dealt with the allegations against Ellen Tshabalala - without fear or favour. Calling the Minister to account will send out a strong signal that the parliamentary oversight exercised by the Committee last year was not a one-off."
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