Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, appeared to dodge several pertinent questions in Parliament on Wednesday. She was appearing before the ad-hoc committee investigating the SABC board.
PARLIAMENT, August 29 (ANA) – MPs are on Tuesday expected to tackle a report naming people, including cabinet minister Faith Muthambi, who may have lied in a parliamentary probe into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
The report compiled by Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying the five people stems from the inquiry of an ad hoc committee established last year to look into the affairs of the SABC. That inquiry highlighted mismanagement, a culture of non-compliance with laws and political interference.
The report was submitted to Speaker Baleke Mbete who last week referred it to the portfolio committee on communications.
The report outlines how Muthambi, in her former portfolio as Communications Minister, may have misled the committee when she denied putting pressure on then board members to appoint her friend, the ever controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng, as SABC chief operating officer.
If found to be true, it would be a breach of the Powers and Privileges Act.
“In paragraph 23.2.2 [of the SABC inquiry report] reference is made to the Board minutes of 7 July 2014 which appear to contradict the then Minister’s evidence that she did not pressurise the Board to appoint Mr Motsoeneng in the COO position,” the report from Parliament’s lawyers said.
Former board chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe was also found to have possibly lied when he told the inquiry in December last year he had no knowledge of the firing of the “SABC 8”, the group of journalists who were fired and then rehired after objecting to changing editorial policies at the broadcaster.
“Ms. Muthambi, however, indicated that Prof Maguvhe himself had led a 5 October 2016 presentation to the Portfolio Committee which included feedback with regard to the labour dispute. This could be indicative of Professor Maguvhe misleading the Inquiry.”
One of Maguvhe’s predecessors, Ben Ngubane, also the former Eskom chairman, is also on the list in the report.
“The testimony offered by Dr Ngubane could be seen as an attempt to mislead the inquiry and that false information was presented to the Inquiry.”
Ngubane testified that former CEO Phil Molefe had pursued a contract with rival television station ANN7, a Gupta-owned company, though the contract was signed after Molefe had left the SABC.
The alleged failure of former company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys to table key documents to the ad hoc committee meant she also made it on to the list.
The lawyers suggest a probe be done into former SABC chief financial officer, who has since resigned, James Aguma’s submission of an email stating that a new memorandum of incorporation, which gave Muthambi more powers at the SABC, was in fact authentic.
While the report stated that no guilty finding had been made against the five, those who give false evidence before a committee could be liable to a fine or jail time not exceeding two years or both.