The Portfolio Committee on Communications says it is on course with the process to fill looming vacancies on the SABC Board. The term of office for the current Board expires in mid-October.
However, Parliament is currently in recess for the next month and a half as lawmakers are doing constituency work. This has raised concern in some quarters on whether the committee can recommend the appointment of a new Board on time.
The SABC Board has previously been marred by instability. As some Board members resigned before their terms of office expired. The Board ordinarily has a term of five years. However, eight Board members were appointed in 2019 to ensure a quorum following resignations. The race is now on to recommend a new Board.
“It is in the best interest of the committee to advertise on time to ensure that by the time the term of office comes to an end there is a smooth transition between the old board and the new board would be coming in. So in this regard we are advertising now in July just to make sure we are able to work within time,” says Boyce Maneli, Chairperson, Portfolio Committee on Communications.
The lobby group Save Our SABC says the constituency period may stifle the appointment of a new Board on time.
“We don’t think there is enough time for the public call for nominations to be done and the appointment process because we know that is quite a lengthy process and we also just don’t want this process to be rushed so we actually written a letter to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications to voice out our concerns about this particular issue however we have not received any response,” says Uyanda Siyotula – Coordinator: Save Our SABC.
Some political parties say they want a Board that will ensure journalistic independence and financial sustainability.
“The new board should be able to reposition the SABC into an entity that produces the content that is attractive to its viewers and continues to make advances towards journalistic independence that has been re-emerging since the term of this current board and that the SABC can be financially sustainable,” says Solly Malatsi, DA MP.
The current Board oversaw the section 189 retrenchment process to reduce operating costs. As the public broadcaster made losses of over 600 million in the last financial year.