NEWS

Zuma Misses Deadline To Oppose Legal Action Over SABC Board

Lobby groups are taking Zuma to court to force him to appoint a permanent SABC board.

17/10/2017 06:33 SAST | Updated 17/10/2017 06:33 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma missed a 5pm deadline on Monday to oppose a court application by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) that seeks to get Zuma to appoint a permanent SABC board, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported.

Zuma received the names recommended by Parliament at the end of August, and missed the September 26 deadline to appoint a permanent board, according to News24. Parliament interviewed over 300 candidates.

City Press previously reported that Zuma wanted to stall the process so that people considered pliable could be appointed. But the Presidency denied this, saying the delay was merely so that the Zuma could vet the candidates.

MMA and the Support Public Broadcasting Coalition reportedly filed an urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday demanding that Zuma appoint the board within 24 hours to avoid further legal action.

MMA's William Bird reportedly said the "most logical" reason why Zuma has not appointed the permanent board is because the interim board "tried their best to get a lot of crises addressed including appointing a CFO [chief financial officer], CEO [chief executive officer] and a head of news."

According to Business Day, the organisations argue that Zuma has a duty to act by appointing the board, but also to act without delay.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo reportedly extended the appointments of three acting executives last week.

Business Day reported that there are suggestions that Zuma is unhappy with some of the candidates suggested by Parliament to be appointed to the board, as they are seen as too independent, such as Khanyisile Kweyama, Mathatha Tsedu and Michael Markovitz.

The organisations reportedly say that the SABC's affairs cannot be properly managed without a lawfully constituted board.

In an interview with the Saturday Star last weekend, Dlodlo reportedly implied that the interim board members could not be permanently appointed.

"If you put me as an acting president today, if I have an eye to that seat, I will tell you that I will not act because I have an eye to that seat. So that was my approach to [these] issues. It was just on a matter of principle," she said.

She said she had said as much to the interim board members.

"I said to them: 'All of you will be gone [and] life will still continue, in terms of ensuring that what you have begun to do is carried forward because the management of the SABC will still be there. The minister who saw your work through will still be there to say, how far are you on the issues that we had agreed on, all of us. So continuity will still be there, with or without them. You must also remember that the executive of the SABC also sits on the board'," Dlodlo told the Saturday Star.

She reportedly also said that, while the delay in appointing a permanent board worried her, she was in no position to tell Zuma what to do.