South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe has approached the High Court in Cape Town to interdict Parliament from proceeding with an inquiry into the crisis at the public broadcaster.
Maguvhe is the lone board member remaining.
Maguvhe is understood to be concerned that some members of the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the SABC and its dysfunctional board — such as DA MP Phumzile van Damme and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi — are biased against him because they have made up their minds already that the SABC board must be dissolved.
The committee is scheduled to begin its work on Tuesday, but it will likely be postponed pending the court application. The inquiry is meant to run for two weeks and its report is due in February 2017.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said the party had briefed its lawyers and it would be opposing Maguvhe’s application. The matter is likely to be heard on Friday.
“We will be filing our papers tomorrow [Tuesday] … We believe his [Maguvhe’s] application is ridiculous … It’s a grotesque abuse of public resources. He has clearly learnt something from [controversial SABC executive] Hlaudi Motsoeneng,” Selfe said.
Maguvhe refused to comment on Monday. Ad-hoc committee chairman Vincent Smith could not be reached for comment. He reportedly said the committee would still meet on Tuesday to discuss the implications of Maguvhe’s application.
Thirty witnesses will be called to give evidence, including the SABC Eight, former board members, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
The SABC Eight is a group of journalists who brought a Constitutional Court case against the broadcaster after being suspended for challenging its editorial policy.
The crisis at the public broadcaster is largely about Motsoeneng. He lost his job in September when the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal against a ruling by the High Court in Cape Town setting aside his permanent appointment as chief operating officer.
The SABC re appointed Motsoeneng to his previous post as group executive for corporate affairs, which prompted the resignation in October of two board members — Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso.