Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has launched a bid to take full control of the SABC, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
Muthambi has introduced legislation that would give her the final say on who is appointed to the broadcaster’s board, which has been backed by cabinet.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill was tabled on 4 December, and will effectively turn the SABC into a state broadcaster – one which is controlled by the minister.
“It also allows for a nomination committee to be set up by Muthambi to recommend candidates ,” stated the report.
The bill also aims to reduce the number of non-executive board members from 12 to 9, and the number of members needed for a quorum from 9 to 7.
ANC may not be on board
According to the report, Muthambi is currently unpopular within the ANC and some leaders are taking exception to her behaviour – notably her disregard for the party’s subcommittee on communication.
A member of the ANC’s subcommittee told the Sunday Times that Muthambi had defied the party, and that there would “be a fight” over the bill.
Franz Kruger, who was part of the first post-apartheid management team of the SABC, told the newspaper the amendment bill was a problem.
“We have fought long and hard so that we are where we have public broadcasting. This takes us back to a situation where the SABC would be a state broadcaster,” he said.
The DA echoed the negative sentiments towards the bill.
“It will see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become an ANC-government propaganda tool under the control of Minister Muthambi,” said the DA.
Earlier in 2015, Muthambi amended the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation – giving her the power to appoint its CEO, COO, and financial officers. She also increased her powers to approve all the board’s business and strategic plans.
Muthambi was also behind the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as COO, an appointment which the High Court in Cape Town declared “unlawful and irrational”.
Muthambi is also accused of appointing television head of news Jimi Matthews as acting CEO without consulting the board.
The full report is available in the Sunday Times – 6 December 2015 edition.