Committee to recommend SABC chair's suspension

Parliament's communications portfolio committee has recommended the suspension of SABC board chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Parliament's communications portfolio committee has recommended the suspension of SABC board chairperson Ellen Zandile Tshabalala. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The decision was taken during a committee meeting on Tuesday following a briefing by a senior legal advisor to Parliament.

“The appointing authority is the president and therefore if there are any intentions by the committee to suspend the chairperson, the committee would have to write a recommendation to the House for the House to pass a resolution recommending her removal pending the outcome of the inquiry…” legal advisor Ntuthuzelo Vanara said.

The final decision on whether Tshabalala would be suspended for allegedly lying about her qualifications lay with President Jacob Zuma. MPs from parties across the political spectrum reached consensus on the matter.

Good reason for suspension
“In view of the explanation now, I think let’s follow the legal process… recommend to Parliament for suspension…” said ANC MP Lerumo Kalako. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said given there was “overwhelming prima facie evidence” against Tshabalala, and that the possibility existed that she could “interfere with board processes” were all good reasons for her suspension. “I think it might be in everyone’s best interests that she is suspended so there can be no retributive action taken in the run up to this process we are conducting in Parliament,” said DA MP Gavin Davis. 

He welcomed the decision by the committee and said: “The unanimity of committee members in this matter is a welcome development in a Parliament often characterised by partisanship and petty politicking. The DA looks forward to the speedy resolution of this issue in the interests of bringing stability to the public broadcaster.” 

Davis said a motion would be tabled on Wednesday for President Jacob Zuma to suspend Tshabalala.

Economic Freedom Fighters’ MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi agreed. “We need to inspire confidence in our people that we take our country and its citizens serious and that justice must be seen to be done,” Ndlozi said. MPs also agreed that the inquiry would be open to the public, after an ANC MP suggested the committee “manage information” coming out of the process. 

Last month, committee chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa was criticised for barring journalists from a meeting where Tshabalala’s alleged transgressions were discussed. This time around she committed to a transparent process, saying: “Consensus reached. It will be open.”

Falsified qualifications
Tshabalala is due to appear before the committee on September 25 when the inquiry is due to start. She stated on her CV that she had a BCom degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa). Tshabalala also claimed she held a postgraduate degree in labour relations. Unisa has since stated their records reflect she has neither of the qualifications.  – Sapa

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