Former SABC chair Maguvhe to pay for failed legal challenge

Parliament has instructed the state law advisor to recover money from former SABC board chair Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe for his failed last ditch effort to stop the ad hoc committee investigation into the public broadcaster.

This is the latest step against those deemed responsible for the governance failures at the SABC that has led to the broadcaster facing a financial crisis.

Parliament’s legal services advocate Anthea Gordon on Tuesday briefed the communications portfolio committee on the latest, following recommendations by the ad hoc committee.

Maguvhe, who was labelled “the last man standing” for refusing to step down, lost his court application, which was dismissed with costs.

The ad hoc committee warned him at the time that he would be held personally liable, as there was no quorate board to take any decisions. He resigned shortly afterwards.

The committee also heard there is a possibility that Maguvhe, former communications minister Faith Muthambi and former SABC board chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane (now Eskom board chair), could be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for lying to Parliament, which is a criminal offence similar to perjury.

Last week, the SABC instituted disciplinary steps against CFO and acting CEO James Aguma, while former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is facing a disciplinary inquiry.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is hell-bent on holding Muthambi to account. The ad hoc committee found Muthambi to be “incompetent” in its report, which was adopted by Parliament, and recommended that President Jacob Zuma considers firing her as communications minister. This was before Zuma had reshuffled his Cabinet.

DA MP Veronica van Dyk asked which steps the committee could take against Muthambi for her contravention of the memorandum of incorporation of the SABC.

Gordon said the reality is that the minister is accountable to the president. The matter can, however, be referred to the privileges committee.

Gordon said Muthambi launched an application in the Western Cape High Court to set aside the recommendations related to her. She cited Parliament and ANC MP Vincent Smith, who chaired the ad hoc committee, as respondents.

In her legal bid, Muthambi questions Parliament’s competency to make recommendations against her.

Despite the fact that Parliament – with her own party as the majority – found her “incompetent”, Zuma moved Muthambi to the public service and administration portfolio in his dramatic late night Cabinet reshuffle on 31 March. Ayanda Dlodlo replaced her as minister of communications.

Gordon said Muthambi’s court application was signed before the Cabinet reshuffle.

Meanwhile, parliamentary legal team services and ad hoc committee evidence leader Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara is looking into witnesses who have misled the committee.

Gordon said she couldn’t provide the names as yet, but by June 5 the investigation would be complete and a report will be issued to the committee. The report will be handed over to the NPA.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said it was openly discussed who might have lied to Parliament, and these include Muthambi, Ngubane and Maguvhe.

“I didn’t think the identification is a top secret,” said Van Damme.

Van Dyk and Congress of the People (Cope) MP Willie Madisha expressed their concern about the alleged bugging of SABC employees by the State Security Agency (SSA).

“The spying issue, that is wrong, we can’t allow that,” said Madisha.

Van Dyk wanted to know what the committee could do on this matter.

ANC MP Humphrey Maxegwana, chairperson of the portfolio committee, said the inspector general of intelligence, Dr Sethlomamaru Dintwe, will be called to the committee.


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Former SABC chair Maguvhe to pay for failed legal challenge