DA, UDM disagree on dissolution of SABC board

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The United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament are on the opposite sides on whether the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Board should be dissolved to appoint an interim one.

UDM Chief Whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa says best way to address the current vacuum in the board is to dissolve it and appoint an interim one. But the DA’s Phumzile van Damme says this will be disastrous for the Public Broadcaster.

Four board members, John Mattisson, Khanyisile Kweyama, Krish Naidoo and Mathatha Tsedu tendered their resignations to  President Cyril Ramaphosa last week. This has left the SABC Board with only four remaining non-executive members.

There were already four vacancies in the board before last week’s resignations. This has left the board without a quorum. An SABC Board consists of 12 non-executive directors and three executive directors. The communications committee has already announced that the vacancies for the non-executive directors will be filled.

However, Kwankwa says it will be impossible to fill the eight vacancies in the next few months.

“The most logical step to take at this point in time is to dissolve the current board and to put in place an interim board that will oversee in particular the elections process in South Africa and the coverage of the elections process. And then the sixth democratic Parliament can be in a position to do nominations and interviews for permanent board members to ensure stability. But between now and May next year, there is not enough time for the current democratic Parliament to be conducting interviews and doing nominations for permanent board members,” says Kwankwa.

DA Member of Parliament’s Communications Committee Phumzile Van Damme says there is enough time to conclude the process of filling the eight vacancies in the board. She says she disagrees with the UDM that the current board which does not have a quorum, should be dissolved to appoint an interim one.

“The DA’s position is that the appointment of an interim board would be an absolute disaster for the Public Broadcaster in that the process of the interim board is not as vigorous. There is no interview process. It need to be political parties that can give their names forward. We want a stable and permanent board for the SABC, and therefore believe that we should fill all vacancies in January as agreed by the Portfolio Committee on Communications. We held a meeting a few weeks ago and decided that we will conduct all interviews in January for approval at a sitting of the National Assembly in February. We believe there is enough time to both interview and submit the names to the National Assembly for approval.”

Parliament’s Communications Committee Chairperson Hlengiwe Mkhize could not be reached for comment.

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