Communication minister accepts ruling on SABC board’s powers
The SOS Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa and Freedom of Expression Institute, say the ruling is excellent for the independence of the SABC board
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says she will not challenge a court ruling limiting her role in the appointment of SABC executives.
Earlier this week, the High Court in Pretoria dismissed the minister’s application for leave to appeal a previous ruling regarding the powers of the SABC board. This was after Mokonyane’s legal team failed to show up for the hearing.
Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, her predecessor, launched the appeal in 2017, saying the judgment seemed rushed and contradicted the Labour Relations Act. Kubayi-Ngubane said at the time she did not necessarily oppose the ruling that the board should appoint executives but it should at least consult the minister.
The court ruled late in 2017 that the executive members of the SABC had to be appointed solely by the board without any requirement of approval by the minister. The ruling brought clarity on the roles of the minister and the president in the appointment of the SABC’s board, CEO, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
The court also affirmed the independence of the SABC board, which has long been bedevilled by political interference, precipitating the collapse of previous boards.
“Minister Mokonyane has resolved to not continue with the litigation in the matter. She has liaised with the SABC board and will be finalising a memorandum of incorporation with the board that is aligned to the letter and spirit of the judgment that was previously a subject of an appeal,” her spokesman, Mlimandlela Ndamase, said.
The SOS Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa and Freedom of Expression Institute, which launched the case in 2015, welcomed the court decision to dismiss the minister’s application.
“It is excellent for the independence of the SABC board, because it means the executive members of the board are to be appointed solely by the nonexecutive members of the board and without any requirement of approval by the minister,” the three groups said in a statement.
The SABC currently has an acting CEO and chief financial officer. The board, which was appointed in late 2017, has moved quickly to stabilise the public broadcaster, although it still requires a significant cash injection. It is still awaiting a R3bn government guarantee. The SABC, however, insists its cash flow position has improved after it pursued aggressive cost containment.