Proceedings in Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the SABC board took on a lighter tone on Thursday as MPs bantered with each other on their second last day of work.
The eleven committee members seemed to sense their work was drawing to a close after two gruelling months, using the penultimate day of deliberations on their draft SABC inquiry report to pass politically-nuanced comments.
ANC MP Makhosi Khoza kicked things off with a subtle jab at her DA counterpart Phumzile van Damme early in the session.
Van Damme wanted to add a clause into the draft stipulating that the Broadcasting Act should be acknowledged as supreme over all other legislation concerning the public broadcaster.
“Oh that’s fine, there’s nothing DA about that,” Khoza chirped to laughter.
EFF MP Fana Mokoena would get in a chirp of his own sometime later, as he put it to the committee that the report should include testimony by the “SABC 8” that his party had been deliberately sidelined in the run-up to the 2016 local government elections.
‘I like these people, man’
MPs disagreed on the extent that two witnesses, Vuyo Mvoko and Lukhanyo Calata, had singled out the EFF as targets of a campaign from high up in the SABC to give the party less coverage.
Khoza said Mokoena had “maybe watched too much TV” the previous night, and was allowing his night-time viewing to influence his understanding of the facts.
“What, the ‘War Room’?” he jibed back, in reference to recent allegations of an ANC election “black ops” campaign.
Khoza and Van Damme would continue a running theme of what, from her end, the DA MP – seeming visibly agitated at times – labelled “heckling”.
Mokoena then said: “I like these people, man. There are proper people here.”
Committee chairperson Vincent Smith later also joked that if certain financial facts were incorrect by the completion of the report, they could blame it on one of the Parliament support staff members.
ACDP MP Steve Swart, a lawyer by trade, volunteered his services to the unlucky individual.
The tone of the meeting was proof of a committee that had grafted through two months of witness testimony, SABC defiance, draft reporting, political differences, and one that has been said to be an example of what parliamentary work can and should be between competing parties.
They were also quick to thank the support staff for the long hours they too had put into the compilation of the report.
The committee had finalised the first three sections of their report by lunchtime on Thursday, which included an introduction, mission statement, terms of reference, witness testimonies and methodology.
After lunch, it would debate the final report, and observations and recommendations going forward, which may be the final test of the committee’s general comradery.