The long-awaited report by the parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was finally tabled for consideration in the National Assembly on Tuesday, with the majority of MPs united in their recommendation that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi be fired, and that the board, including its current executive members, be dissolved.
Introducing the contents of the report, Vincent Smith, chairman of the ad hoc committee that conducted the probe, said: “We recommend that the National Assembly formally dissolve the SABC board, including three executive board members.”
There are currently no nonexecutive directors on the board.
Smith outlined the breakdown of corporate governance at the broadcaster and the waste of public money, which included R5.1 billion in irregular expenditure.
“This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
He said the SABC should have a credible accounting authority (board), which does its work in accordance with the Broadcasting Act, Public Finance Management Act and the Companies Act.
“The ad hoc committee recommends that the process of appointing at interim board and eventually a permanent board must be expedited,” said Smith.
Despite accusations by SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng and former board chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe that the process was unfair and tantamount to a “kangaroo court”, Smith said the “inquiry took place with maximum transparency, it took place with absolute fairness…”
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Mike Waters said the 82-page report “has all the ingredients of a Shakespeare tragedy, from treachery, corruption, deceit, intimidation, abuse of power, trickery and sheer greed”.
“The main characters in this tragedy are the minister of communications, Hon Faith Muthambi, and Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, likened to Lady Macbeth and Lord Macbeth, with the journalists and staff being the victims,” said Waters.
“Both the Minister and Mr Motsoeneng believed that the SABC was their own fiefdom to do with as they pleased to further a broader political agenda. This reign of terror was aided and abetted by some, not all of the board members, the company secretary and by the majority of the MPs serving on the Communications Portfolio Committee.”
He also accused Muthambi of committing perjury when she was questioned by MPs during the inquiry.
“This is of such a serious nature that criminal charges must be brought against the Minister.”
The committee had also found Muthambi had displayed incompetence in doing her job, said Waters, adding that she had interfered in the board’s affairs.
“The report recommends that, given the minister’s violations, parliament must refer any violations of the Constitution, Privileges Act, the Executive Code of Ethics and/or the Broadcasting Act to the Ethics Committee and/or the Presidency for processing,” the DA MP said.
Waters even invoked the name of a late pop superstar.
“The great, late George Michael said: ‘We gotta have Faith.’ Unfortunately, the DA no longer has faith in Minister Muthambi, and she must be fired.”
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Fana Mokoena said the parliamentary inquiry revealed an SABC that “controlled journalistic practices” and this was done “for the purposes of propaganda”.
“We heard it was used as a tool of a much larger scheme of handing over the SABC to the corrupt Gupta brothers,” he said.
He agreed that Muthambi should go.
“We sincerely hope that the president will […] do the right thing for the first time in his life”, said Mokoena.
– African News Agency