PARLIAMENT - Two of the vacancies on the embattled SABC board will be re-advertised, Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications heard on Tuesday, after a first round failed to yield enough suitable candidates to shortlist.
The decision was announced in a sub-committee responsible for the shortlisting on Tuesday, following Sunday press reports that the list of 23 nominees included a bricklayer and an entrepreneur who claimed to have started his first business venture at the age of six.
Standing in for committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa, ANC MP Dikeledi Tsotetsi said “her principals”, whom she declined to name, had ruled out a suggestion supported by all parties that the 92 candidates who did not make the shortlist for the post of former board chair Ellen Tshabalala be added to the pool of nominees.
Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis began cautioning the committee that advertising anew was unlikely to yield better candidates given the instability surrounding the board, leading to a testy exchange with Tsotetsi who said the point he was trying to make was not on the agenda for the day.
“If we re-advertise without resolving the issue of the legal opinion, we are going to have the same situation because nobody is going to apply and risk being removed arbitrarily,” Davies said.
Tsotetsi interrupted: “You keep on saying something you are not allowed to say.” Davies snapped back: “You are not censoring what I can say.”
He was referring to a damning legal opinion given to the committee last week by parliamentary law advisors suggesting Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had exceeded her powers by approving the unlawful removal of three board members in recent months.
According to the opinion, the Broadcasting Act is explicit that members may be removed only by the “appointing body” and only after the board had conducted a due inquiry and found either misconduct or an inability to perform the required functions. The president appoints board members upon recommendation by the committee.
The committee is unclear on how it should handle the legal opinion, and Moloi-Moropa has suggested it may call Muthambi to explain herself.
The two positions it is currently trying to fill are those left by the departure of Bongani Khumalo who resigned in January, and Thembinkosi Bonakele, who left almost a year ago.
Davis pointed out that following the contested removal of Hope Zinde, Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi, the board now had six vacancies and therefore lacked a quorum.
“The SABC board cannot take any decisions and if they did take decisions these may be unlawful,” he said.