No faith in Muthambi as National Assembly adopts SABC report

FILE PICTURE: Public Service and Administration Minister, Faith Muthambi. Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer.

FILE PICTURE: Public Service and Administration Minister, Faith Muthambi. Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer.

The final report calls on Zuma and Parliament’s ethics committee to look into Muthambi’s competence to hold her position.

A report compiled by an ad hoc committee of Parliament into the SABC, which recommends, among others, that President Jacob Zuma seriously considers firing Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, was adopted in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The report calls on Zuma and Parliament’s ethics committee to look into Muthambi’s competence to hold her position.

The report followed a more than three month process by MPs, who heard testimony from various witnesses. They included journalists who objected to unethical editorial practices, who told MPs some had received death threats.

Muthambi and former chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe, who could not adequately answer questions as easy as who the shareholder of the SABC was, also came before MPs.

Former board members, who were irregularly dismissed and who resigned because of a shambolic state of affairs within the board, also briefed MPs about the flouting of financial laws, the SABC providing resources so rival tv station ANN7, owned by the Gupta family, for its breakfast shows, and about Muthambi “interference” in the 2014 appointment as chief operating officer of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who is without a job following another court ruling against him.

While there are currently no non-executive board members, acting group chief executive James Aguma, acting chief operating officer Bessie Tugwana, and acting chief financial officer Audrey Raphela remain as executive members of the board, but not for long.

READ MORE: Fire ‘incompetent’ Muthambi and acting SABC board, say MPs

Introducing the report in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Vincent Smith, chairman of the ad hoc committee that conducted the probe, said: “We recommend that the National Assembly formerly dissolve the SABC board, including three executive board members.”

He 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 Motsoeneng and Maguvhe that the process was unfair and tantamount to a “kangaroo court”, Smith said the “inquiry took place with maximum transparency and “absolute fairnes”.

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 Ministers 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

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