SABC board members condemn Parliament inquiry

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board members spent all of Tuesday morning arguing with parliamentarians over whether they would participate in an inquiry into the troubled public broadcaster or not.

Before adjourning for lunch, several of the SABC board members raised concerns about being “prejudiced” if they were to disclose information to Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications.

Earlier, Christine Qunta, who resigned as the SABC board’s deputy chairperson earlier this year, read out a statement on behalf of eight of the board members.

According to the statement, the board was concerned that findings may be made “through a flawed process which is likely to have a prejudicial impact on them both collectively and individually”.

“We are of the view that the manner is which this ‘inquiry’ has been convened does not comply with the principles of administrative fairness,” Qunta said.

African National Congress MP Johnny de Lange said the inquiry had become a “complete and utter embarrassment” and suggested that the board members be subpoenaed to force them to answer to Parliament.

“It is very clear that the eight non-executive board members who read the statement are not prepared to participate in this matter,” De Lange said.

“If they do not want to answer questions then let us subpoena them. They say they want to participate, but everything they do is to avoid participating.

“I think we are a complete and utter embarrassment to the people watching this. There is a corporation running wild out there.
I cannot account to the public how our money is being spent. I do not know.”

The SABC is facing a financial crisis and is seeking a R2-billion bailout from the government.

Nine members of the broadcaster’s 12-member board have resigned so far.

The series of resignations came as a motion of no-confidence was filed against board chairperson Khanyi Mkonza, who quit last month. The board was left with only three members and no longer had a quorum.

The inquiry, which was called last week, was expected to propose that the SABC board be dissolved. That proposal would then be put before the National Assembly to allow an interim board to be appointed.

Committee chairperson Ismael Vadi was equally flustered with the board’s approach.

“Do you expect us to take you seriously if we cannot get simple, basic information from you?”—Sapa

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