The SABC building in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
The SABC building in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

Parliament’s ad hoc committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the SABC will not pack up and stop work simply because all SABC board members have resigned, committee chairman Vincent Smith said on Tuesday.

"We have a programme and that programme will continue," Smith insisted in an interview.

His comments followed the resignation on Monday of SABC chairman Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe, the last of the board members to resign.

Smith said the National Assembly’s mandate to the committee went beyond the question of the suitability of board members and included matters of financial management, adherence to policies and procedures and the implementation of the recommendations of former public protector Thuli Madonsela among other things.

At a very minimum he said the hearings with former board members, staff and stakeholders, which have gripped the nation with their revelations of abuse of power and lack of proper corporate governance, had highlighted the need for clarity on which act of Parliament governed the SABC — whether it was the Broadcasting Act, the Companies Act or another law.

"If you listen to the conversation, board members are removed in terms of the Companies Act but the Broadcasting Act says this can only be done by resolution of the National Assembly.

"So when does it suit you to use the Companies Act and when does it suit you to use the Broadcasting Act?" Smith asked.

It had become clear during the public hearings that Madonsela’s recommendations and human resource policies had not been implemented.

Furthermore, Smith said as the ad hoc committee was established on the basis of a resolution of the National Assembly its work could not be summarily discontinued.

He said the public hearings would continue on January 10 with testimony from former SABC chairs Ben Ngubane (currently the chairman of Eskom) and Ellen Tshabalala as the last two witnesses.

After this, the committee would draft a report that would be distributed to stakeholders, including the government as the shareholder, for comment before the submission of a final report to the National Assembly by the February 28 deadline.

"It would be totally irresponsible for us to have witnessed and observed what we have witnessed and observed and not make a recommendation to Parliament," Smith said. It would be important, he added, to highlight the structural problems at the public broadcaster that needed to be addressed.

Unless these matters were attended to, the problems would persist whoever was appointed to the board.

DA spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme was also adamant that the inquiry proceed.

"We always agreed as a committee that we would continue our work even if Prof Maguvhe decided to resign. We have uncovered so much during the inquiry that cannot be left without resolution or recourse," she said.

 

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