File: The SABC says scathing statements against its editorial policy changes are misleading.
PARLIAMENT – A report compiled by Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying five people, including Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, who may have misled an inquiry into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) would be put before MPs on Tuesday to deliberate on a way forward.
On Monday, Parliament’s communication portfolio committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana said while the report was tabled last week, MPs only received a copy this week.
“It came today [Monday] so I’ll take it to the committee on Tuesday, and we’ll see what will be one about it,” he told African News Agency (ANA).
“It’s not on the agenda, but I will inform the committee about it so we can decide on a way forward."
The report outlines how Muthambi 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 (COO).
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 Prof. Maguvhe misleading the Inquiry.”
One of Maguvhe’s predecessors, Ben Ngubane 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 meant she also made it 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.