NEWS

The SABC Report That Read 'Like A Shakespearean Tragedy' Passes It's Last Debate In Parliament

Parliament adopts the SABC inquiry report.

07/03/2017 16:48 SAST | Updated 07/03/2017 16:53 SAST
Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy
Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Parliament has formally adopted the final report of the ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the SABC board.

The National Assembly debated the report in the House on Tuesday, with only the United Democratic Movement objecting to its adoption.

The processes to dissolve the board and appoint interim directors will now begin in earnest.

Ad hoc committee chairperson Vincent Smith earlier told the House that the task would always feel like a marathon, and test MPs to the limits.

Smith said it was evident that the interim board and the permanent board was set up to fail from the very beginning.

He said the board was dysfunctional and inquorate when the inquiry started its work. In the last three years, the SABC has had four boards and three chief executive officers.

Smith also condemned the SABC's decision to walk out of the inquiry on its first day of public hearings, and then proceed to call a press conference and tell the "country and the world that the ad hoc committee was tantamount to a kangaroo court".

The National Assembly could never again allow that level of undermining to occur in Parliament again, he said.

He also said the process took place with maximum transparency and maximum efficiency.

He said the ad hoc committee remained true to the sentiments of former President Nelson Mandela, that political parties could work together to achieve profound results.

The ad hoc committee recommended dissolving the board and that the process of appointing an interim board be expedited, he said.

'Shakespearean tragedy'

DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters said the report read like a Shakespearean tragedy, with Communications Minister Faith Muthambi playing Lady MacBeth, and former chief executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng acting as Lord MacBeth.

Together, they had terrorised the journalists at the SABC, Waters said.

He said the minister should be fired and criminally charged for her role at the broadcaster, including the amendment to the board's memorandum of incorporation.

Waters suggestions were not included in the final report. The inquiry recommended that Muthambi be referred to the ethics committee and that President Jacob Zuma reconsider her position in Cabinet.

Muthambi was not present in the sitting.

EFF MP Fana Mokoena said the SABC saga was at the heart of state capture.

He said the report did make some good findings and recommendations, including recommending that Muthambi's position be reconsidered.

"We sincerely hope that the president will set aside his factional and self-enrichment interests, and do the right thing for once in his life," Mokoena said.

'Who gave Muthambi her power?'

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said Muthambi had not fulfilled her mandate as required by the Broadcasting Act.

Singh said it would do government good to conduct more public hearings into state-owned enterprises like Sassa.

The United Democratic Movement did not support the report's adoption, saying the ad hoc committee should have also called Hlaudi Motsoeneng to testify.

The inquiry previously defended the decision, saying Motsoeneng was given ample opportunity to participate in proceedings, but walked out along with the SABC delegation on the first day.

Cope MP Deidre Carter said the report did not deal with who had given Muthambi the power and license to hand over the SABC to the chief executives. That was a question for the president, she said.

ANC MP Juli Kilian said the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, currently before the portfolio committee on communications and tabled by Muthambi, was not the answer to the SABC's problems.

APC MP Themba Godi said the only stain on the report was that "the elephant in the room" (Hlaudi Motsoeneng) was called to testify.

The final speaker, ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, said the party would support the report because it "cannot resist logic and sense".

The NFP, ACDP, FFP, AIC, PAC and Agang SA also spoke during the sitting.

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