There is an aspect of yesterday’s grilling of the SABC board by the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications that has to be added to the whole sorry saga of what has transpired within the walls of the public broadcaster.
It is beyond the mandate of the committee to do other than produce recommendations – despite the recent history of ignoring the report from Thuli Madonsela in her remit as public protector, turning a deaf ear on the findings of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the astounding arrogance of reappointing former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng as head of group corporate affairs in seeming defiance of the Supreme Court findings on his fitness to occupy his previous post and the staggering R400 million in debt the corporation has rung up this year.
The questions surrounding just what yawning hole the public funding has disappeared into will be addressed in parliament on Tuesday when the embattled board appears in the National Assembly to explain. But essentially, it lays beyond the committee’s powers to fire what observers see as a totally dysfunctional management structure ruling the airwaves.
Parliament alone has the power to recommend the sacking of the board to President Jacob Zuma. Clearly, though, the board is a house divided when members of the stature of Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso resign in revolt of what they perceive as violations against what they termed the fitness of the board to function.
One might ask: why only now? But you have to applaud the belated move, nevertheless. It is equally clear that something has to be done about the autocratic manner in which the SABC board – and by extension, the minister of communications – has flouted the generally accepted norms of corporate governance and built themselves a laager of indifference to what the citizens of this country expect from the function the broadcaster has been legally mandated to perform.