Committee distances itself from instruction to suspend SABC chair

Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications distanced itself on Sunday from comments made by committee member Gavin Davis regarding SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala.

“The committee reiterates that it will refuse to be drawn into making public pronouncement in the media about matters,” chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa said in a statement.

Such pronouncements had the potential not only to undermine the integrity of its work, but also trample on the principle of natural justice.

On Friday, Davis said in a statement that the committee had sent a new memorandum to the Speaker of the National Assembly calling for the immediate suspension of Tshabalala as SABC chairwoman.

“This follows a second unanimous agreement amongst committee members that Ms. Tshabalala be suspended pending the outcome of the parliamentary Inquiry on December 3,” Davis said.

“The committee believes that Ms. Tshabalala’s suspension is crucial given the various delaying tactics she has employed to stall the Inquiry.”

He said what should have been a quick process had been dragged out for far too long.

“Already, there are indications that Ms. Tshabalala’s legal team is pushing for another postponement,” he said.

Moloi-Moropa said as a matter of principle, the committee was committed to affording Tshabalala a fair inquiry, in which she would be invited to give her side of the story regarding the allegations levelled on her.

“We are committed to upholding the ruling of the Western Cape High Court that we need to respect the principle of natural justice in dealing with this matter,” she said.

“It is therefore against this backdrop that the committee resorts to remain reticent about contents of the statement issued by Mr Davids.”

Tshabalala is accused of lying about her academic qualifications when applying for the job of SABC chairwoman.

Tshabalala obtained an interim interdict on October 23, halting the parliamentary inquiry into whether she lied about her qualifications.

She stated on her CV that she had a BComm degree from the University of SA (Unisa) and a post-graduate degree in labour relations.

Unisa has since stated that, according to its records, she had neither of these qualifications.

On November 12, the Western Cape High Court refused Tshabalala an order to halt the continuation of the inquiry.

Judge Elizabeth Baartman did not immediately provide full reasons for her judgment, merely stating: “Order for relief refused and no order on costs.”

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Committee distances itself from instruction to suspend SABC chair