SABC chair must be removed: parliament

Parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Wednesday unanimously resolved to call for SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala’s removal from office.

An inquiry by the committee into whether Tshabalala lied about her academic qualifications found her guilty on two charges of misconduct.

“We recommend the removal of Ms Tshabalala… from the SABC board as the chairperson and as a board member,” committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa said.

Tshabalala had 14 working days to respond to a report containing the committee’s findings and recommendations. The report and Tshabalala’s comments would be sent to the National Assembly for approval.

The House would be able to adopt the report only after Parliament re-opened in February. If the Assembly adopted the committee’s recommendations it would be sent to President Jacob Zuma. Only Zuma, the appointing authority, could fire her.

In the meantime, MPs would ask the Speaker to write to Zuma to immediately suspend Tshabalala.

The committee reached its findings after a University of SA (Unisa) official told the inquiry that its records show that although Tshabalala registered for both a BComm degree and a labour relations diploma, she failed to obtain either qualification.

Unisa executive director for legal services Jan van Wyk testified that Tshabalala registered for her BComm degree in both 1988 and 1996, but did not complete her studies.

According to the Unisa files, she registered for a diploma in labour relations in 1995. During the academic year, she passed two, failed two, and did not write two of the modules.

In January 1996, she was allowed to rewrite the two she could not write the previous year.

She got 13 percent for her human resources module, and 35 percent for labour relations. Unisa then wrote to Tshabalala informing her she would not qualify to redo the course.

“What it [the letter] says is when this [the results] came out you [Tshabalala] did so poorly you will not be allowed to be readmitted again,” Van Wyk said.

Tshabalala was accused of two charges of misconduct.

The one charge relates to her stating on her CV that she obtained the two qualifications when she applied for the job as SABC chairwoman.

The other charge relates to an affidavit she submitted to Parliament stating her qualifications had been stolen during a burglary at her home.

Tshabalala was not present at Wednesday’s inquiry.

A plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf after the committee denied a request by Tshabalala’s attorney for a postponement.

Earlier, Michael Tillney, for Tshabalala, read out an affidavit from his client in which she cites “procedural unfairness” as a reason for not being at the inquiry.

“There are allegations of procedural unfairness in the convening of this meeting today [Wednesday] and also there’s the application for leave to appeal,” said Tillney.

Tshabalala had filed notice of leave to appeal a Western Cape High Court order refusing her bid to halt the parliamentary inquiry.

“The effect of this should be to postpone the hearing of the inquiry pending the outcome of the appeal,” Tshabalala said in her affidavit.

Tshabalala wanted time to produce forensic evidence in her defence.

An irate Moloi-Moropa indicated MPs had already “bended over backwards” to accommodate Tshabalala, and would not delay the inquiry any further.

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SABC chair must be removed: parliament