NEWS

Faith Muthambi Misled Parliament Over SABC Investigation -- Report

The DA wants criminal charges laid.

21/08/2017 16:14 SAST | Updated 21/08/2017 16:14 SAST
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Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

Former Communications Minister Faith Muthambi tried to mislead Parliament, according to a report from Parliament's legal services.

The Democratic Alliance wants Speaker Baleka Mbete to lay criminal charges against Muthambi and the others who have been found to have misled or lied to the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board.

Lying to Parliament is a criminal offence, similar to perjury.

The report identified the following individuals:

- Former Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, currently minister of public service and administration, whose testimony "could be seen as an attempt to mislead the Inquiry";

- Former company secretary Theressa Geldenguys, for her "failure to inform the committee that she was no longer the company secretary [...] which could be considered as an attempt to mislead the inquiry";

- Former SABC chief financial officer and acting CEO James Aguma, who might have provided the inquiry with an email which "purports to lack authenticity as being that generated by the [Companies and Intellectual Property Commission] CIPC". The report states that "in order to establish this fact conclusively further investigation needs to be undertaken to ascertain whether the email was generated by the CIPC";

- Former SABC board chair, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, whose testimony contradicted that of Muthambi regarding the labour dispute between the SABC 8 and the SABC, which "could be indicative of Prof Maguvhe misleading the inquiry"; and

- Former SABC board chair, Dr Ben Ngubane - "[the] testimony offered by Dr Ngubane could be seen as an attempt to mislead the inquiry and that false information was presented to the inquiry";

"Although the DA welcomes the tabling of this report, the reality is that it is almost 12 weeks overdue and has been sitting on the Speaker's desk since the 5th of June," said DA spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme.

"Mbete must now ensure that she fully complies with the full recommendation of the report and lay criminal charges.

"Misleading Parliament is a serious offence and the DA will ensure that this report will not stay just another report."

Van Damme said a clear message must be sent to "those who think they can lie, under oath, to Parliament.

"Lying will not be tolerated. It is now up to the Speaker to ensure that this message is sent otherwise the DA will ensure it is heard loud and clear."

Muthambi 'incompetent'
The ad hoc committee recommended that: "Parliament's Legal Services Unit, with the assistance of the Evidence Leader, should within 60 days from the adoption of this report by the National Assembly, identify the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid."

The report also found Muthambi "incompetent" and suggested that President Jacob Zuma reconsider her as minister of communications.

He appointed her as minister of public service and administration in his dramatic late night Cabinet reshuffle in March, shortly after the ad hoc committee's report was adopted by Parliament.

Muthambi will ask the courts to review the ad hoc committee's findings.

Her stint as minister of public service administration also has not been without controversy.

She failed to appear before the portfolio committee on public service and administration last week, where she was due to be interrogated on allegations that she used up to R300 000 of public funds to fly friends and family to Cape Town to attend her budget speech in May.

The committee decided to hold her financially liable for the meeting and to summon her to another meeting. Two days later, the chairperson of the committee, Dr Makhosi Khoza, was fired from her position.

Aguma resigned as SABC CFO after the corporation instituted disciplinary proceedings against him.

In June, Ngubane resigned as chairperson of Eskom's board after allegations of the Guptas' influence over the power utility gained more substance.

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