South Africa

SABC board: Dithering Ramaphosa refers overdue appointments back to Parliament

SABC board

Letters continue to fly to and fro between Parliament and President Cyril Ramaphosa, with no decision in sight on the appointment of a new board for the SABC.

The public broadcaster has been without a board for five months despite Parliament having forwarded the names of 12 candidates and an additional three to Ramaphosa last year.

In the latest letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula published by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) and dated 9 March, Ramaphosa again raises concerns about the three additional candidates, adding that some of the issues he had raised previously were never satisfactorily answered.

“Whilst you have informed me that the so-called ‘reserve pool’ ought to, in your own words, not to be considered at all, these feature in the decision of the National Assembly dated 6 December 2022.

“Noting the letter, I do not believe myself constitutionally empowered to ignore the contents of the resolution of the National Assembly.”

ALSO READ: Boardless SABC’s operation hamstrung while Ramaphosa dithers

Following the interviews and on the recommendation of its subcommittee, the committee resolved to include an additional reserve list of three names to cater for any eventuality, given the length of the process of appointing a new board.

The candidates on the reserve list included axed Prasa CEO Zolani Matthews, Palesa Kadi and Quentin Green.

SABC matter goes back to portfolio committee

According to Ramaphosa, both committee chairperson Boyce Maneli and Mapisa-Nqakula agreed that the president should choose 12 board members out of the 15 names, leaving him with questions as to how the decision to include three more candidates came about.

The president further requested that the matter be referred back to the portfolio committee for communications urgently “so that I will be given a clear legally accurate record of what precisely the National Assembly has determined with respect to persons they advised me to consider for appointment to SABC board”.

The 12 recommended candidates included former SABC head of news, Phathiswa Magopeni, who was dismissed from the public broadcaster last year, as well as former SABC journalist Dr Renee Horne, veteran broadcaster Mpho Tsedu, and the CEO of the Association of Comms and Technology, Nomvuyiso Batyi.

READ MORE: Calls mount for Ramaphosa to appoint new SABC board

Last year, the SOS public service broadcasting coalition said the SABC’s current financial standing posed a threat to its existence, following the Auditor-General’s 2021-22 annual report which indicated the R201 million loss in this financial year may cast significant doubt on its ability to continue operating.

The SOS and other civil organisations have since filed papers in the Constitutional Court to force Ramaphosa to appoint the board.

A boardless SABC means that crucial issues such as budgets and strategic matters are on hold.

Meanwhile, it emerged last week that SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe did not sign up to officially perform duties as a designated representative in the absence of the board.

Former communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni had revealed that the decision had been made “with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance” for Mxakwe to take the role of the board.

Lobby groups lambasted the move by the minister, labelling it illegal and unconstitutional.

NOW READ: SABC board: Delay in appointments ‘worrisome’ and could lead to ‘destabilisation’