/ 12 September 2007

Cosatu hits out at list of SABC board nominees

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has condemned the absence of ”working-class representatives” on the final list of names for the new South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board approved by the National Assembly’s communications committee.

The selection of names flies in the face of the Broadcasting Act, Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement on Wednesday.

The names being put forward for approval by President Thabo Mbeki clearly contravene the obligation to include people with expertise and experience in social and labour issues and those who represent a broad cross-section of the population, he said.

”There is a clear preponderance of figures from the world of BEE [black economic empowerment] business, while there are none from the trade unions and the African National Congress’s alliance partners,” Craven said.

The communications committee on Tuesday recommended 12 names for the new SABC board, including six current board members. The six are Alison Gilwald, Andile Mbeki, Fadila Lagadien, Khanyisile Mkhonza, Christine Qunta and Ashwin Trikamjee.

Current board chairperson Eddie Funde, who was also nominated and on the shortlist of 37, withdrew his nomination shortly before he was due to be interviewed at the end of last month.

The other six recommended by the committee are Nadia Bulbulia, Desmond Golding, Peter Vundla, Bheki Khumalo, Gloria Serobe and Pansy Tlakula.

Cosatu had consistently called on the SABC to increase and improve its coverage of labour and working-class issues, including a daily labour-news slot and a weekly TV current-affairs programme on labour and the working class, produced by a dedicated SABC labour desk.

”We have also demanded a working-class perspective on the news, on such issues as poverty, development, HIV/Aids and other developmental challenges facing our country, and an end to the monopoly on commentary from business and neo-liberal spokespeople.”

To achieve these goals, a board containing people from the labour constituency who understand the problems of working people is necessary.

Cosatu wants the tripartite alliance leadership to discuss the issue before Mbeki accepts the names submitted, Craven said.

In a separate statement, Young Communist League spokesperson Castro Ngobese also criticised the recommendations. The league ”lacked confidence” in some of the names in particular and the nature of representativeness of the proposed board in general.

”This is due to the fact that it does not represent divergent social groups and that [the] principle of inclusivity has been compromised in the process.”

It is the league’s long-held view that the SABC will continuously be influenced and used by the ”powers that be” for political agendas, he said. — Sapa