Parliament committee expected to dissolve SABC board

Parliament’s committee is expected to dissolve what remains of the SABC board and agree on five people to sit on an interim board. (Gallo)

Parliament’s committee is expected to dissolve what remains of the SABC board and agree on five people to sit on an interim board. (Gallo)

The committee has not decided to dissolve the board but is expected to do so on Tuesday.

On Monday, the presidency announced that six more South African Broadcasting Corporation board members resigned and that President Jacob Zuma accepted their resignations together with those of former board chairperson Ben Ngubane and his deputy Thami ka Plaatjie.

The latest resignations bring to nine the number of the current board’s resignations, and leaving only three people in the 12 member board.

Tuesday will be a busy day for the committee, according to its chairperson, Eric Kholwane of the ANC.

The committee will meet first, to hear a report back from Communications Minister Dina Pule about her engagement with the SABC last week.

It is then expected to dissolve what remains of the SABC board and agree on five people to sit on an interim board until such time that a permanent board is appointed.

Passing committee resolutions
They have to do this before 2pm on Tuesday when the National Assembly sits. The National Assembly has to pass the resolutions of the committee for them to carry through.

Tuesday is the second last sitting of this quarter, hence the rush by the committee to finalise the processes of the SABC board before the end of the day.

Wednesday’s sitting is the last of the quarter, but it has been set aside for questions to the Zuma. Traditionally, questions to the president are the only item on the agenda for that day.

After hearing about the six resignations on Monday, Kholwane said he sought a meeting with Parliament’s legal advisors as there is a gap in legislation in terms of addressing what has happened to the SABC board.

“The legislation has not anticipated what has happened.
It only talks about the dissolution of the board based on certain circumstances and the recommendation of the committee to the National Assembly.

“I have met with Parliament’s legal people about having three board members remaining. What would be happening in the time when we are trying to fill the vacancies?” he said.

Filling the vacancies
If vacancies caused by resignations need to be filled, advertising the positions for a period of three weeks to a month is mandatory. Processing applications can take up to three months.

For the SABC board to meet, it needs a quorum of nine including three executive members: the chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief operations officer, but with only three non-executive members remaining, they will not make the quorum.

“It means they will never meet until we fill the vacancies. Committees of the board won’t be able to meet and some of the issues that need the approval of the board will not be approved,” said Kholwane.

Parliament will recommend the five names to Zuma, who appoints the interim board. An interim board can only be in place for a maximum of six months.

Kholwane told journalists that the portfolio committee would consider the names of the board members who have just resigned, if they are recommended.

Kholwane defended the oversight committee’s role in the SABC saga saying: “We are not micro-managing the board, we are doing oversight, and most of the time when you do oversight, you deal with post issues ad not pre-issues.”

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