National 17.8.2016 05:36 am

SABC asked to explain itself in parliament

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The department of communications and the board of the SABC have been summoned to parliament to answer for the disarray at the broadcaster.

Chairperson of the portfolio committee on communications Humphrey Maxegwana said yesterday that the first step was to find out what events had led up to the recent countrywide condemnation of the SABC.

Before a parliamentary inquiry was put into motion, the committee had to hear from the department, the SABC and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) as to what had happened over the last month, Maxegwana said.

“Number two, we will request more time from parliament to deal with SABC.

“We must have an inquiry, but we thought an inquiry before we’re even listening to the department and SABC is premature. Be that as it may, we have tabled that to the house chair [Cedric Frolick] as one of [the steps].”

DA MP Phumzile van Damme lauded the move as a victory.

“This is indeed a step in the right direction towards fixing the many problems plaguing the public broadcaster.”

Van Damme requested the full inquiry in terms of rule 227 (1)(c) of the National Assembly Rules, which gives powers to the committee to “monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations concerning any such executive organ of the state, constitutional institution or body or institution”.

Van Damme said: “Frolick should now, without delay, give effect to the mandate of the committee.”

Eight journalists were fired from the public broadcaster after questioning the editorial policies of the organisation pertaining to the broadcasting of protest action.

The labour court later ordered the reinstatement of some of the staff.

In another apparent clampdown, it was reported on social media yesterday that all international trips for SABC staff had to be approved by the top echelons at the public broadcaster.

The approval has to be given not by the SABC board, but by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi herself.

When asked for comment on this, the SABC said it was merely a cost-cutting measure in relation to Treasury’s call to tighten belts in public spending.

– denisew@citizen.co.za

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