DA to lay criminal charges against Muthambi

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament says it will lay criminal charges against former Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, following the release of a report by veteran Journalist Joe Thloloe into editorial interference at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Tlholoe was appointed by the SABC in May 2018 to head an Independent Commission of Inquiry into alleged editorial interference.

The outcome of the five-month investigation was released by Tlholoe and the SABC Group Executive and Board Chairperson in Auckland Park earlier on Monday.

“The report found evidence of her interfering in the editorial decisions of the SABC. This is not only a violation of the Broadcasting Act, but reveals that she misled the SABC Inquiry in 2017.

“The DA will, therefore, be laying charges for her misleading Parliament, which is a contravention of the Powers and Privileges Act. We note that the report also found that the ANC also hovered over the SABC in terms of its editorial decision. We hope that the report sends a stern warning to the ANC that it must not interfere in the SABC,” says DA Spokesperson on Communications, Phumzile van Damme.

The Commission has found that the newsroom took instructions from former Communications Minister and former board member, Ellen Tshabalala.

Thloloe, however, said there’s no evidence of a direct link between the SABC and the ANC, although he could not rule it out.

The report further notes that during former COO Hlaudi Motsoaneng’s tenure between 2012 and 2017, the broadcaster suffered from capricious use of authority and power to terrorise staff.

‘Empowering women’

Responding to the report, Motsoeneng says the impartiality of the report is questionable and that he does not regret empowering women at the SABC.

“On the issue of instructions, remember people cannot perform illegal instructions…”

Motsoeneng insists, “There’s nothing wrong about the appointment of Nothando Maseko, in any case I don’t apologise to  put women on top at the SABC because that is what I was looking to do…”

The Commission cautioned against a witch-hunt for the so-called enforcers, saying it would divide an already fractured institution.

‘Disciplinary action’

Meanwhile, the SABC plans to take disciplinary action against people who have been mentioned in the report.

SABC Board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini says disciplinary processes should not be seen as a witch-hunt.

“The SABC commits to taking urgent action against those implicated in terms of the SABC’s disciplinary code and policies. The notion that holding those implicated accountable will be viewed as a witch-hunt is rejected. In fact, it is part of the terms of reference of the inquiry to recommend appropriate corrective action which may include disciplinary action where there is misconduct.”