Legal amendments Communications Minister Faith Muthambi made at the SABC, giving her and Hlaudi Motsoeneng broad powers at the broadcaster, were never filed with Cipro.
Her changes to the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation (MOI) in 2014 were never filed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (Cipro), researchers on Parliament’s ad hoc committee investigating the SABC board revealed on Wednesday.
The SABC had therefore been acting without legal basis when making executive appointments and removing board members, MPs agreed. Committee members shook their heads as the news was revealed.
The last official amendment filed was registered in October 2013 and finalised in March 2014. Muthambi’s predecessor Yunus Carrim signed it.
The only other amendment that went to Cipro was in July 2015, with a notice to change three directors.
This was a reference to the sacking of three former board members Rachel Kalidass, Ronnie Lubisi and the late Hope Zinde in March 2015.
Muthambi’s amendment is at the heart of alleged widespread mismanagement at executive level at the SABC since 2014. It formed the basis of many witness testimonies during the inquiry in December.
Her first alleged amendment to the MOI, in October 2014, soon after taking office, gave her broad powers to remove SABC board members. It gave the chief executives at the SABC, including then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeng, the power to appoint group executives.
Three different copies
During the inquiry, the committee was shown three different copies of the MOI: one drawn up by former board member Lubisi, one by former company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys, and one by Muthambi herself.
Only Muthambi’s version was signed.
None of the three had been registered with Cipro. Therefore the only legally binding MOI was the one Carrim signed in 2013.
IFP MP Narend Singh said they needed to determine why there were four versions. Amendments not submitted to Cipro had no legal basis, he said.
ANC MP Fezeka Loliwe wanted to confirm that the amendment of July 2015 only informed Cipro of the change in directors. The researchers confirmed this.
ANC MP Hlomane Chauke said he did not understand why Muthambi would not have filed the amendment with the office.
EFF MP Fana Mokoena said this had implications for all the other SABC legislation, and that the SABC was being run on an illegal document.
“Everything they’ve done is illegal,” DA MP Mike Waters said. ACDP MP Steve Swart said the revelation had “huge implications”.
Committee chairperson Vincent Smith said only Carrim’s version had legal standing.
He gave Muthambi’s spokesperson, who was in the meeting, until lunchtime on Thursday to provide the committee with a response.