The National Assembly gave the communications portfolio committee the
go-ahead to introduce amendments to the Broadcasting Act to
allow for the removal by Parliament of directors from the SABC board as
well as its total dissolution, writes Linda Ensor in Business Day.

This means the committee will formulate an amendment bill, which it will publish and subject to public hearings before submitting it to Parliament for adoption and promulgation. The net result could be the removal of the SABC board before the end of the year, and its replacement by a board more sympathetic to a faction of the African National Congress (ANC).

The National Assembly’s green light — strongly opposed by both the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party — came in the wake of the previous unsuccessful attempts by the ANC-dominated communications committee to have a motion of no confidence in the SABC board adopted by the assembly.

The committee blames the board for the continuing disruption at the public broadcaster, which has seen the board suspend SABC group CEO Dali Mpofu several times and his high court challenges to this action.

Motivating the proposal for a committee bill, committee chairman Ismail Vadi said the state of affairs at the SABC was unsatisfactory. The dysfunctional board and the persistent conflicts between it and management had “severely tarnished the image and reputation of the corporation in the eyes of the public”.

Vadi said it was necessary to correct the weaknesses in the Broadcasting Act, which made no provision for outside intervention when things went wrong.

In her budget vote speech, Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri has called for a legislative review of the act to allow for the removal of board members. Vadi gave the assurance that despite the shortened next parliamentary session, the process would be transparent and participatory.

DA communications spokeswoman Dene Smuts said while she supported the idea of Parliament having a say in the removal of board members on objective grounds of misconduct and incapacity, she strongly opposed the proposal, which would allow for the dissolution of the entire board.

“Is it conceivable that an entire body selected by Parliament with public nomination and participation will be unable to perform its functions, and its members one by one found incapacitated? ” Smuts asked. The only purpose of such a provision would be a political purge, she said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.