SABC board chairs' contradictory evidence should be probed


Communications Minister Faith Muthambi answers questions during the ad hoc Parliamentary committee inquiry into the fitness of SABC members to hold office on December 14, 2016 in Cape Town.

PARLIAMENT –  MPs on Tuesday, started haggling over recommendations to be contained in a draft report following an inquiry into the affairs of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

They made some drastic proposals, which are set to be debated and settled on Thursday.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Fana Mokoena wants the Portfolio Committee on Communications to probe an amendment to the Broadcasting Act which would give Communications Minister Faith Muthambi the power to hire and fire board members.

“Let’s ask them to investigate the centralising of power to minister’s office,” said Mokoena.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mike Waters said while the ad hoc committee cannot dictate to the portfolio committee, it could advise them about the dangers of approving the amendment bill.

His colleague Phumzile van Damme said the ad hoc committee needed to be clear on which law governs operations at the SABC.

WATCH: SABC inquiry sits for final day

“I agree then we must say the Broadcasting Act is the supreme law governing the SABC. Any amendment can’t go against the Broadcasting Act.”

The contradictory testimony of former board chairpersons Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tshabalala should also be investigated, the committee decided. While Ngubane insisted there was never any interference in the affairs of the board, Tshabalala testified there was “gross political interference”.

Committee chairman Vincent Smith said Parliament’s legal team should investigate whether anyone misled Parliament.

Ngubane’s actions will also come under scrutiny on Thursday, with some opposition MPs suggesting that a recommendation should be made to the public enterprises committee that he be removed as chairman of the Eskom board.

Waters said Ngubane was a “bad witness” and his testimony was “embarrassing”.

“I honestly think we would be erring if we did not make that recommendation,” he said.

Smith suggested that the report to be compiled by Friday will be a draft one, and affected parties would then be given an opportunity to comment, including Ngubane.

United Democratic Movement MP Nqabayomzi Kwanka agreed.

“Let’s afford them an opportunity to comment before we take it further.”

MPs are set to decide on which observations and recommendations would be contained in the draft report on Thursday, before it's formally adopted on Friday.

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