Khanyisile Kweyama. Picture: SUPPLIED
Khanyisile Kweyama. Picture: SUPPLIED

The former deputy chair of the SABC board, Khanyisile Kweyama, says her resignation had nothing to do with an acrimonious meeting the board had with communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Kweyama’s resignation from the SABC board, as well as those of Krish Naidoo and John Matisonn, saw several media reports insinuate that they had done so as a protest against Ndabeni-Abrahams, who allegedly acted beyond her constitutional mandate at the meeting by giving the board a direct instruction rather than providing oversight.

Ndabeni-Abrahams had only been in office for about a week when she met the board. The meeting ended badly, as she was not in favour of their proposal to radically reduce the headcount of the public broadcaster.

Without retrenchments, the SABC’s overall expenditure is projected to increase to R7.64bn, but revenue is only expected to go up to R6.84bn for this financial year. The board was, however, advocating for staff cuts of about 1,000 people, just as Ndabeni-Abrahams’s party, the governing ANC, is preparing for a general election.

Though the media reports claimed to have a copy of Kweyama’s resignation letter, she pointed out that neither the words “minister” nor “board” were mentioned in it.

She did not want to be drawn into the dispute between the minister and the board, but is hopeful the matter will be resolved when new board members are appointed.

The resignations have left the board without a quorum. This means it does not have enough members to pass any decisions, just as the SABC is facing a cash crunch. The board had asked the government to provide funding guarantees of R3bn, but the government has yet to respond to this request.

Kweyama said she was not at the meeting with Ndabeni-Abrahams and had resigned because being on two other high-profile boards — Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Brand SA — had taken its toll on her.

Like the SABC, both those boards have had to deal with their share of controversy. The auditor-general said Prasa was on the verge of financial collapse as it had incurred a previously undisclosed loss of R1.7bn for the last financial year. At Brand SA, where Kweyama is also chair, she had to preside over an organisation that has had its CEO, Kingsley Makhubela, suspended since April on several allegations of wrongdoing.