Chairman of first lady’s foundation prepared to resign if appointed to SABC board
Bongumusa Makhathini, the chairman of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation, says corporate life has taught him to take steps to avoid conflicts of interest
The chairman of first lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma’s foundation will consider resigning from the organisation to avoid a conflict of interest‚ should he be appointed to the SABC board.
Aspirant SABC board member Bongumusa Makhathini was grilled on his relationship with President Jacob Zuma and his wife, Ngema-Zuma, on Wednesday during interviews for the SABC board.
The foundation is a non-profit organisation focusing on diabetes awareness.
He was one of 11 candidates interviewed for vacant seats on the SABC board.
DA MP Gavin Davis had asked Makhathini whether he would be prepared to resign from the foundation should he make it to the board.
"Is this not a conflict of interest given the patron of that organisation’s proximity to the president‚ and would you be prepared to resign from the board of the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation if appointed to the SABC board?" asked Davis.
Makhathini said his career in the corporate sector had taught him that whenever there was potential for a conflict of interest "you’ve got to take steps to mitigate that".
"So sitting on an SABC board for me is important to benefit the country. So if there is a proven conflict of me serving on the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation and serving on the SABC board‚ and that requires me to mitigate and resign as a solution‚ I will consider that‚" said Makhathini.
The DA’s Phumzile van Damme quizzed Makhathini on his relationships with Zuma and the first lady and whether he had met President Zuma.
"Basically I’ve met him when we have functions as a foundation [and] the president sometimes attends and I will meet him like that‚" said Makhathini.
He also argued that there was no conflict in his other role as a board member for tobacco trader‚ British American Tobacco‚ saying that‚ in line with the law‚ the cigarette producer did not place adverts on the SABC.
Makhathini holds qualifications from Harvard Business School and a master’s degree in business management and economics from the University of Johannesburg.
Makhathini was followed by John Mattison who currently serves on the interim board.
Mattison told the committee that he became a public broadcaster in the 1980s.
He said since the interim board came in‚ the SABC TV licence collection rate had improved drastically.
MPs also grilled candidate Dinkwanyane Mohuba over his business relationship with former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale and his role in the ANC’s Polokwane conference.
Mohuba denied he had any business links to Mathale‚ describing a 2012 article about this as "malicious intentions of the journalist".