/ 14 October 2015

Mthembu: Are you calling me a liar?

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

On Tuesday evening, the ANC’s Jackson Mthembu responded to communications minister Faith Muthambi saying she effectively called him a liar.

This was after she released a statement earlier in the day saying that Mthembu’s claim at a press conference, following the ANC’s National General Council, that Muthambi did not consult the ANC on digital migration policy was “patently untrue”.

Muthambi’s department has failed to migrate from analogue broadcast signal to digital and has defied the ANC in her decision of non-encryption of the set-top boxes.

Encryption of the set top boxes would enable free-to-air broadcasters such as the SABC and etv access to better content.

Mthembu said at a press conference at the NGC that the ANC wanted Muthambi to explain herself after defying the party.

He also suggested that there could be a reversal of that policy.

However, on Tuesday Muthambi issued a statement denying that there could be a reversal of policy regarding digital migration.

Muthambi noted in her statement that encryption was not discussed at the ANC NGC despite Mthembu saying the ANC wants her to account for defying party instructions.

“The matter of encryption was also not discussed in the Commission and Plenary Sessions of the National General Council when the report of the Commission was adopted. The minister, the deputy minister, the DG of the department of communications and the DG of GCIS were part of these sessions; the issues raised by in these two publications were never discussed,” Muthambi said in her statement.

However, Mthembu said it was discussed.

“We want to place on record that the issues of digital migration and SABC were discussed extensively by the Commission which resulted in the decisions that were taken,” Mthembu said in a subsequent statement.

He said the NGC noted the failure by the country to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting as well as the terrible instability at the SABC.

The NGC also pointed a need for an urgent meeting between Muthambi and the minister of telecommunications, Siyabonga Cwele.

Turf war
The Mail & Guardian reported last year that there was a turf war which erupted between Cwele and Muthambi, who was not consulted on the final migration plan.

At the time it reported that the tensions were so high that they resulted in minister of telecommunications Siyabonga Cwele missing the end of July deadline he had set for his department to publish a new policy for digital migration.

Earlier this year the digital migration programme was handed over to Muthambi’s office.

This is not the first time that Muthambi clashed with the ANC communication subcommittee.

She previously refused to account to the subcommittee saying she was only accountable to the president.