SABC inquiry adopts final report – editorial policy must be scrapped

The ad hoc committee inquiring into the SABC adopted its final report on Friday after a brutal deliberation process this week, including a 03:30 adjournment in the early hours of Friday morning.

MPs of the ad hoc committee spent 13.5 hours on Thursday evening negotiating its list of recommendations, following a three-month process of public hearings.

They met on Friday at 11:00 for one last read through before adopting the final report by majority decision.

Democratic Alliance MP Mike Waters said he had to take the report to his caucus first, and asked to reserve his right to adopt the report.

The United Democratic Movement also asked to reserve their right while they reviewed it.

The biggest point of contention among MPs was the role of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and her involvement in amending the SABC’s Memorandum of Incorporation.

Her amendments allegedly gave the group executives broad powers at the broadcaster since 2014, and undermined the board directors.

MPs agreed by a majority vote to defer Muthambi’s fate to President Jacob Zuma and Parliament’s ethics committee.

African National Congress MPs said Zuma needed to consider the evidence and make his own decision, and that the ethics committee had to conduct its own probe in view of referring Muthambi to the Public Protector.

DA MP Waters and Economic Freedom Fighters MP Fana Mokoena said Zuma should seriously reconsider Muthambi’s suitability to continue holding office.

Recommendations

Other final recommendations included:

  • The formal dissolution of the SABC board and the appointment of an interim board, in line with the Broadcasting Act;
  • The validity of the board’s memorandum of incorporation must be investigated by the interim board, in conjunction with the portfolio committee on communications;
  • The interim board must investigate the nature of the State Security Agency’s activities at the SABC;
  • Parliament must amend the Broadcasting Act to make it legally clear that it supersedes the Companies Act, which has always been the view of the ad hoc committee;
  • A reputable company must conduct an independent forensic investigation into all irregular appointments, suspicious contracts, salary increments and performance bonuses paid during the period in question;
  • The interim board must ensure that the top three senior management positions (GCEO, COO and CFO) are filled by suitably qualified and experienced professionals;
  • The current editorial policy must be scrapped and public participation must be sought in formulating new editorial guidelines that are conducive for journalists to work without fear;
  • All witnesses who deliberately provided incorrect information to the inquiry should be investigated by Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications;
  • The legal team who attempted to block Parliament’s proceedings on behalf of the SABC should face appropriate consequences.

The committee has until Tuesday to table the report in Parliament.

Thereafter, it will be debated by the House, and will become official once adopted by the National Assembly.

News24

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SABC inquiry adopts final report – editorial policy must be scrapped