In the first of 14 interviews aimed at selecting four new members for the national broadcaster’s board, business administrator Sethe Makhesha told MPs that while the SABC had made a “lot of effort” with regard to local content, the international film fare it served left a lot to be desired.
“The kind of material that we need to be buying… internationally should be the latest, the [most] recent.
“Because with the low quality that we are currently experiencing — I mean, for example, we have Sylvester Stallone movies being featured on Friday night, something we used to have in 1985 — I don’t think that is attracting a good target audience.”
Audiences were switching to satellite channels because they wanted to see recently-made films, she said.
Fourteen nominees have been shortlisted by MPs to fill four vacancies on the SABC board left by a spate of resignations last year.
The candidates are being interviewed over three days this week. The committee is to present the names of the final four to the National Assembly on February 3. If approved, they are expected to take up their positions during the first quarter of this year.
The four posts became vacant when board members David Niddrie, Barbara Masekela, Felleng Sekha and Makgatho Mello left last October. Their exits followed months of infighting and complaints over a failure to produce a financial strategy for the cash-strapped SABC.
The highly-qualified Makhesha, who told members she had completed her MBA and then progressed towards a doctorate in business administration, including a stint at Harvard University in the United States, currently serves as a senior executive in the local forestry industry.
She worked for the SABC in the mid-nineties.
Responding to questions, she told the committee she believed the SABC had the potential to be financially self-sustaining.
“[But] they need to go back to the basics.”
The corporation had huge potential. Among other things, what it needed to do was look at all the companies currently not using the SABC for their advertising.
“And sell to them, don’t wait for them to approach you.”
Asked what circumstances she thought might warrant the communications minister, as political head, intervening in the running of the SABC, Makhesha replied that ministerial intervention was a sign the board had failed to do what it was supposed to do.
“I think the board should be strong enough to drive the process,” she said.
The other 13 board nominees include academic Govin Reddy, who is also a board member of the Mail & Guardian; Mahavishnu Padayachee, head of the school of development studies at KwaZulu-Natal University; Sadhasivan Perumal, an associate professor at the same university; and Unisa vice-chancellor David Mosoma.
Also still to be interviewed are Peter Druchen, head of DeafSA; Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, Eskom’s business support manager; Maureen Manyama-Matome, South African forestry company Safcol’s chief financial officer; and former SABC journalist Fawzia Moodley.
The second nominee to be interviewed on Tuesday was radio and television engineer Kenneth Herold.
More interviews will be conducted on Wednesday and Friday this week.
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