The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.  Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the crisis at the SABC has resolved to adopt and send out its draft report to affected parties without including the recommendations section, despite vehement objections by the DA.

DA MPs in the committee strongly argued for the recommendations to be included in the draft report "in the interest of fairness".

Zuraya Adhikarie, Parliament’s legal adviser, had told the committee earlier that it would be "problematic" to include the recommendations in the draft report as this could be seen as pre-judging the matter.

"[We] must have all facts and consider all the information before a decision is made [on the recommendations]. This [sending the report to affected parties to comment] is the start of such a process," said Adhikarie.

DA MP Mike Waters dismissed the legal advice saying it was only fair to include the recommendations.

"The recommendations must be included in the draft report that will be sent to affected parties. The recommendations will not be cast in stone and can always be changed, depending on the responses received from the affected parties," argued Waters.

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme said the decision not to include the recommendations was a "political ploy" by the ANC to shield people from accountability. The ANC MPs were taking instructions from Luthuli House, she said. Van Damme also argued that the committee’s provisional recommendations were already public knowledge.

The committee’s working document contained detailed recommendations, including that a new, interim SABC board "institute an investigation into all irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure", which amounts to R5.1bn ‚ and that "steps must be taken to recover" these funds. The document also hinted that the deal between the SABC and the Gupta-owned The New Age media outlet — which gets paid for the televised TNA Business Breakfasts — could be "terminated".

The document also sharply criticised Communications Minister Faith Muthambi for her handling of the SABC.

“It is quite clear that on hearing these proposed recommendations, the ANC got cold feet and pulled back after stellar nonpartisan conduct during the course of the SABC inquiry,” Van Damme said in a statement released after the committee adjourned.

ANC MPs took exception to accusations that they were taking instructions from Luthuli House. "This ANC team here is fearless and nobody will stop us from making decisions. We are independent thinkers … You must stop suffering from this Luthuli House post traumatic stress syndrome," said ANC MP Makhosi Khosa.

Another ANC MP, Juli Kilian, said including the recommendations would create an unending process. She said it would be sensible for the committee to discuss final recommendations once it had received comments on the draft report.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Steve Swart said the committee must "err on the side of caution" and not send out the recommendations for now. However, he said another option would have been to include the recommendations in the draft report with a caveat that the document is provisional and is subject to change depending on evidence received.

The matter was eventually put to vote with the majority of the MPs supporting the decision not to include the recommendations.

The draft report will now be sent to the affected parties, including Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, former board chairs Ben Ngubane and Zandile Tshabalala, and the SABC executives. It will also be made available on Parliament’s website.

The ad committee has given those implicated until February 16 to submit comments. From the February 17 to 21, MPs will consider the responses. They will then meet on February 22 to draw up the final recommendations before tabling to final report in Parliament by February 27.

The ad committee has given those implicated until February 16 to submit comments.  From the February 17 to 21, MPs will consider the responses. They will then meet on February 22 to draw up the final recommendations before tabling to final report in Parliament by February 27.  

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