Bill will give ANC total control of SABC: DA

CAPE TOWN - A proposed new law will see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become an ANC-government propaganda tool, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

“On Friday the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, tabled a bill that will give the ANC-government complete control over the public broadcaster, the SABC,” DA spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said in a statement.

The Broadcasting Amendment Bill was tabled after the National Assembly had risen, “presumably with hopes that it will go unnoticed”, she said.

Of primary concern, the bill would remove Parliament’s role in the appointment of the SABC’s non-executive board members. The president would now appoint non-executive members of the board on the advice of the minister, not Parliament. The minister would be advised by a “nominating committee” she appointed herself.

The bill would also reduce the number of the non-executive board members from 12 to nine; reduce the quorum from nine to seven; and specify a new procedure for their re-appointment, removal, and resignation.

“The Broadcasting Amendment Bill is, quite simply, bad news for South Africa’s democracy,” Van Damme said.

“It will see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become an ANC-government propaganda tool under the control of minister Muthambi.

“Along with the SABC Memorandum of Incorporation secretly signed by Muthambi in September last year, which gives the minister of communications the right to usurp the board’s powers reducing it to a mere rubber stamp, the bill will give the ANC complete control over the SABC.”

Van Damme said the DA would use every mechanism available to make sure that it did not become law in order to protect the independence of the public broadcaster.

For South Africa’s hard-won democracy to thrive, it was imperative that the country had an independent public broadcaster, free from political interference, and presented news that was an accurate representation of conditions in South Africa.

“In fact, the Constitution requires that South Africa’s broadcasting system be in the public interest, to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society. Any machinations to remove the independence of the SABC must be viewed as not only undemocratic, but also possibly, unconstitutional.

“The DA will vehemently oppose this bill for the benefit of all South Africans who have a right to impartial news, not ANC good stories and propaganda,” Van Damme said.

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