Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Communications
Mr. Sikhumbuzo Eric Kholwane
06 March 2013
Dear Mr Kholwane
NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY PARLIAMENTARY HEARING TO RESOLVE CRISES AT THE SABC BOARD AND MANAGEMENT LEVEL
The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition notes with profound dismay and deep concern the ongoing crises at the SABC, at the level of both management and the Board.
Last week the Acting Chief Operations Officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng, was released from his position of COO and veteran journalist Mike Siluma was appointed in his place. We were then informed that Mr. Siluma had resigned. It seems that the Chair of the Board, then attempted to unilaterally reinstate Mr. Motsoeneng as Acting COO. Board members however have opposed this.
Amidst and fuelling instabilities, there have been a number of rumours around the removal of Mr. Motsoeneng. Media reports have linked his removal to a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Report that allegedly implicates certain board members in corruption. The SABC Board was due to present this report to Parliament last week but the meeting was abruptly postponed till May 2013.
The Coalition calls on Parliament to hold an urgent public hearing to address the following issues:
• The recommendations and implications of the SIU report;
• Internal board conflicts, including the role of the Chair in these conflicts;
• The issues raised in Board members’ resignation letters; and
• Ongoing problems at a senior management level at the SABC.
We call on Parliament to ensure the SIU report is tabled and that its content and recommendations are rigorously debated, assessed and transparently acted upon.
Further, Parliament must boldly address the ongoing instability at Board level. The Coalition notes once again the critical information revealed by the resignation letters of a number of Board members since the Board took office in 2010. These include problems with corporate governance and ministerial interference.
Also, Parliament needs to thoroughly investigate the issues surrounding the removal of Mr. Motsoeneng, the resignation of Mr Siluma, and the ongoing instability at top management level in the SABC.
Finally, we call on Parliament to demand that the SABC is more forthcoming and transparent in its communications to a very concerned South African public. It is deeply worrying that South Africans should learn of the on-going and very public disputes and instabilities within the Board and executive from the press citing unnamed sources instead of from the public broadcaster itself whose core function it is to communicate.
We believe there is no time to waste – a Parliamentary hearing all of these things must be called within the next week.
The Coalition would like to be given space to make a presentation to Parliament on a way forward.
We think it is important that Parliament asserts its authority and provides leadership in this crisis. Parliament appoints the Board, and it is Parliament that should hold the Board to account. While we understand the Minister’s desire to see the crises at the SABC resolved, we do not believe that she should be calling for Parliament to be investigating the possible removal of the Board. It is not her role to set the terms of reference for the Portfolio Committee.
We call on Parliament to assert its leadership in resolving this crisis.
The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.
Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
On behalf of the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition