The days of the embattled SABC board are numbered. President Thabo Mbeki, or probably his successor, would be able to fire it now that the controversial Broadcasting Amendment Bill has been adopted by a portfolio committee, writes Siyabongs Mkhwanazi in the Mercury.


However, it is not over yet because the Bill is still to be presented to the two separate houses of parliament and must be assented to by the president.

Although opposition parties objected to the proposed law, arguing that it would threaten the independence of the SABC, ANC MPs in the National Assembly's portfolio committee on communications managed to get the Bill adopted on Wednesday.

With the controversy surrounding the board since its appointment by Mbeki nine months ago, the ANC said it was necessary to speed up the legislation and stop the shenanigans at the public broadcaster.

The CEO and news head of the SABC, Dali Mpofu and Snuki Zikalala respectively, are still on suspension while the board fights its battle to survive hostile ANC MPs.

MPs urged that the Bill be processed as soon as possible, given the time constraint and the short remaining lifespan of this parliament.

The Bill is expected to be debated in the National Assembly next Wednesday and, if voted for by the majority, will be adopted before being referred to the National Council of Provinces.

With the ANC majority in both houses and ANC MPs taking a cue from the new Luthuli House leadership, the Bill is likely to sail through.

In terms of the amendments, the president acting in consultation with Speaker Baleka Mbete, on the recommendation of parliament, can appoint and dismiss the board.

It is also proposed that after the dismissal of the board, the president can appoint an eight-member interim board, to be recommended by parliament, as well as three SABC executives.

The interim board will serve in an acting role for not more than six months until a permanent one is appointed.

ANC committee whip Khotso Khumalo said the proposed law was necessary to make the board accountable to parliament and the president.

"We realised that in the event that an SABC board member or the board itself might act in a way that's not befitting the interest of the corporation and the country as a whole, and they are also unable to carry the public mandate, it is extremely difficult for the president and parliament itself to act on the matter," said Khumalo.