POLITICS
19/12/2016 19:31 SAST | Updated 19/12/2016 21:12 SAST

SABC: We Actually Need To Thank The Good Professor

Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, the waffling (former) chairperson of the SABC board, actually helped the parliamentary inquiry into the shambles that is the SABC.

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Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng consults board member Mbulaheni Maguvhe during a media conference on 6 October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Professor Mbulaheni Maghuve, who resigned as chairperson of the SABC board, should be thanked for having clung on to his position as the last remaining non-executive board member of the embattled public broadcaster.

"The fact that he clung on to his position enabled Parliament to launch the full-scale inquiry that it did. Of course we wanted him to be out of there earlier but thanks to him, people can now see for themselves to what extent the putrid, disgusting rot set in at the SABC," William Bird from Media Monitoring Africa said.

The fact that he clung on to his position enabled Parliament to launch the full-scale inquiry that it did.William Bird

Maghuve resisted calls to resign for weeks, even though he was the last remaining member of the 12-member board. According to the Broadcasting Act, Parliament's portfolio committee on communications will now have to appoint an interim board while the process to appoint a permanent board is being conducted. The SABC has had three permanent and one interim boards during the last 10 years, as well as 12 group chief executive officers in the last eight years.

The African National Congress (ANC) has also welcomed Maguvhe's resignation, saying it is unfortunate that he has sacrificed his professional integrity by putting his selfish interests ahead of those of South Africans and the SABC.

"While we regret that Maguvhe's conscience took so excruciatingly long to speak to him, thereby causing further damage to the corporation's governance and frustrating parliamentary intervention, we are confident that his exit will speed up the process of addressing the leadership crisis at SABC," Jackson Mthembu, ANC chief whip, said in a statement.

"The unacceptable obstinacy of board members who remain stumbling blocks to resolving corporate governance problems is a lesson which Parliament must learn from going forward. The Broadcasting Act might need to be revisited and tightened to ensure that inquorate boards or individuals are not allowed to hold such important public institutions to ransom."

The unacceptable obstinacy of board members who remain stumbling blocks to resolving corporate governance problems is a lesson which Parliament must learn from going forward.Jackson Mthembu

Bird, who made a presentation to the parliamentary inquiry into the SABC, however cautioned that Maguvhe's resignation does not mean problems at the SABC are over.

"The critical thing now is that the SABC implements whatever recommendations come out of the ad hoc inquiry and that forensic investigations are done into the various irregularities at the broadcaster. If this does not happen we'll be back at square one.

"There isn't the slightest scrap or semblance of stability at the SABC. Almost all executive positions are acting. And we mustn't allow the Minister of Communications [Faith Muthambi] to get involved," he said.

Sekoetlane Phamodi, spokesperson for the Save Public Broadcasting Coalition, also welcomed Maghuve's resignation "although it is too late".

"He only left after his board caused widespread devastation. But we now need to focus on the inquiry, which has enabled all of us to understand what the drivers have been that led to the SABC's mismanagement," he said.

He only left after his board caused widespread devastation. But we now need to focus on the inquiry, which has enabled all of us to understand what the drivers have been that led to the SABC's mismanagement.Sekoetlane Phamodi

He said the Broadcasting Act, the SABC's articles of association in terms of the Company Act and the delegation of authority, which govern the chain of command according to legislation and regulations, need to be strictly adhered to. "The acting executive and the interim board aren't allowed to make major decisions on its own. It first needs to stabilise things."

Dennis Bloem, Cope's spokesperson on communications, has welcomed Maguvhe's resignation, saying he has wasted taxpayers' money. "It wouldn't have been necessary to spend millions on an inquiry if he had resigned earlier," he said.