NEWS
15/01/2018 15:40 SAST | Updated 15/01/2018 15:40 SAST

Communications Minister Ignores Court Order On SABC Independence

Minister says Cabinet must discuss and ratify appointments to all state-owned enterprises, but court order gives that power to non-executive board members.

AFP via Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma looks on as Constitutional Court judge Sisi Khampepe (L) administers the swearing-in of the newly appointed minister of energy Mmamoloko Kubayi (R) on March 31, 2017.

Communications minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane is likely to be in violation of a court order she signed in December that gives the SABC board the right to independently make appointments.

On Monday, Kubayi-Ngubane said the top three executive appointments to the SABC needed to be made by Cabinet. Reports on Sunday revealed that broadcaster and MTN executive Chris Maroleng is likely to be named chief operating officer of the SABC, after he goes through security vetting.

But Kubayi-Ngubane has denied an appointment was imminent.

The minister in December, however, signed a court order stating that:

  • The executive members of the SABC board (these are the top three executives at the public broadcaster) are to be appointed by the non-executive members of the SABC board;
  • The minister of communications will have no right to veto a decision of the board regarding the permanent or interim appointment of an executive member of the SABC board.

The SABC board is planning a hot-as-hell set of executive appointments to revitalise a broadcaster left in a mess by President Jacob Zuma's acolyte Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Maroleng is its first big appointment, and the board consulted Kubayi-Ngubane on its recruitment plans.

The minister's spokesperson, Ireen Mmatlou Magwai, told HuffPost:

The minister is not saying that Cabinet makes the appointments. She is saying that all appointments must go through Cabinet processes. Cabinet must discuss the appointments and announce it in a post-Cabinet briefing. Cabinet must be the first to know.

A senior broadcasting executive said he predicted a massive clash between the minister and the SABC board, as the interim court order was clear. He said that a judgment obtained by the SOS Support Broadcasting Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa in October last year clearly found that the SABC board should make key SABC appointments.

While government is appealing the judgment, the interim court order sets out a clear path for appointments to the troubled broadcaster.

Interim Court Order: SOS, SPBC et al vs SABC et al | 6 December 2017 by HuffPost South Africa on Scribd