Parliament sends SABC Board packing with instruction to return with all answers to questions

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The  South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Board and Management were sent packing by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on Tuesday, after being accused of lying and failing to answer questions put before it by lawmakers.

Members of the African National Congress (ANC) were adamant that there was no basis to continue with the public broadcaster’s presentation until they address previous questions related to their turnaround strategy.

Both African National Congress Member of Parliament Lesiba Molala and Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana argued that the SABC Board had lied before the committee on issues such as skills audit, consultations with the unions and other stakeholders.

It became clear from the beginning of the presentation that the ruling party and the Board were not seeing eye to eye in as far as the turnaround strategy was concerned.

Kekana made it clear that she was on the side of the unions, who want Section 189 dropped, and the process be started all over again.

SABC Board and Management appear before Parliament on Tuesday: 

However, opposition parties felt that the Department had no business in interfering with the SABC’s operational matters.

They also reminded ANC members that cutting the wage bill is one of the ANC-led government’s conditions for the public broadcaster’s bailout.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament Phumzile Van Damme and Economic Freedom Fighters’ Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that the SABC must be heard and that if there are any further issues the ANC feels have not been covered, they can do so in writing.

After two hours of toing and froing, the SABC Board was sent back, with a clear instruction to return with all the answers to the questions put forward by lawmakers.

Next will be union representatives, the editorial forum, non-unionised workers and other stakeholders. The main bone of contention is the retrenchment of 600 permanent workers and 1 200 freelancers.

The broadcaster says it is unable to sustain the R700 million a month salary bill.