SABC labour unions urge President Ramaphosa to expedite appointment of new Board

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South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s two labour unions – Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Unions (BEMAWU) and Communication Workers Union (CWU) – are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to expedite the appointment of the incoming SABC Board.

The public broadcaster has been without a Board for more than 100 days. This comes as the term of the previous Board ended on the 15th of October last year.

The parliamentary process of recommending the 12 most suitable candidates was concluded by the National Assembly in December. The 12 recommended names were sent to the President. Three additional names were also selected and approved in the event that some of the 12 candidates may fall off.

CWU Secretary-General Aubrey Tshabalala explains, “It is concerning considering the fact that the SABC is one of the most strategic SOE or institution which is at the centre of democracy when it comes to issues of news, issues of content and issues of informing the public in general. So, for such institution not to have a board is alarming. But it’s also a serious concern on how we are serious with SOEs, in terms of its own governance and accountability and all issues that are in place. We know a lot has been happening at the SABC in the few years;  what the question of accountability? Now it’s even worse when you don’t have a board that oversees such. We think that there is a need for a call to speed up the process.”

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Meanwhile, BEMAWU president Hannes Du Buisson says the union is concerned that the prolonged delay in appointing a SABC Board could have a negative impact on the public broadcaster, especially where strategic decisions have to be made.

“We are on record that we are not too concerned in the short term if the SABC is without a board. But now it seems as if it’s no longer a short-term thing. It seems that this has been dragging on and it’s becoming a big concern, purely because the board was supposed to be operationally involved, we are nearing the year-end of the SABC. There are shorter projects, that are certain things that must happen and the SABC Board should be involved in those particular strategic directions. I think it is time now that we call on the President to hurry and appoint a new board.”

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