One of the SABC’s interim board members believes they have turned the SABC around.
John Matisonn, currently serving on the interim board, was interviewed as a candidate to be appointed to the permanent SABC board on Wednesday.
The other four members of the interim board – chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, her deputy Mthatha Tsedu, Krish Naidoo and Febe Potgieter-Gqubule – are all on the shortlist of 36 candidates to be interviewed by the portfolio committee on communications on Thursday and Friday.
The SABC’s image
Asked what he thinks the interim board’s biggest achievement is, Matisonn said he believes they have changed the SABC’s image.
“We took over a SABC that was heading for a crash, and we managed to tip the nose of the plain,” said Matisonn, a veteran journalist who was blacklisted by the Apartheid era SABC in the 1980’s.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme asked him if he experienced any political interference in his current stint at the public broadcaster.
“There has been nothing significant, but one gets signals indirectly that people want things done in a certain way,” he said.
He said political interference is very damaging to the SABC. This was a sentiment shared by all the candidates interviewed.
Seipati Khumalo, a journalism lecturer who previously worked two years at the Gupta-affiliated ANN7, was asked by ANC MP Mondli Gungubele for her views on editorial independence.
“It is very important that it is protected. If it is not, if there is infiltration, that is when we see restrictions on reporting,” she said.
Van Damme asked her to describe ANN7’s editorial policies.
“Honestly, a lot of interference,” said Khumalo.
Van Damme said she asked because they need people “with backbones of steel” to serve on the board.
DA MP Gavin Davis asked Dinkanyane Mohuba, dean of students at the University of Limpopo, about allegations that he moves in the same business circles as former ANC premier of Limpopo, Cassel Mothale.
Mohuba said he has no business interests with Mathale, except that they stay in same suburb in Polokwane.
Davis also asked him about allegations that he awarded illegal contracts to members of the ANC Youth League.
Mohuba said these were “malicious” fabrications by a journalist and that he didn’t serve on the university’s procurement committee.
The ANC’s Polokwane conference
Davis then asked him if he persuaded the university to host the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.
“And [do] you regret it given that the ANC didn’t pay and owe R6 million?” Davis added.
Mohuba said the university appointed him to be the project manager for the conference and therefore had to meet with the ANC in Limpopo.
“I had an opportunity to meet very important people,” said Mohuba.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “We live in a serious era of poverty of integrity. I am unsatisfied with the way in which you dealt with questions from Honourable Davis. What exactly is your relationship with Cassel Mothale?”
Ndlozi complained that the university is very poor, and that the ANC did not pay for the conference that he said “gave us the wrong president”.
“In 2006 I was asked to head the project and work with the Limpopo chairperson (of the ANC) and that was Cassel Mothale,” said Mohuba.
He said the ANC paid the R6 million three years ago.
Ensuring accountability and compliance with laws and procedures to restore the SABC was the golden thread through the first day of interviews on Wednesday.