THE SABC board walked into an ambush in parliament, writes Ndivhuho Mafela in The Times.


It had intended merely to present its financial results to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications — but it ended up having to account for alleged political bias in its news coverage.

ANC MPs blamed their former party spokesman, Smuts Ngonyama, who has defected to the breakaway Congress of the People party (Cope), for interfering with parliamentary processes leading to the appointment of the SABC’s controversial board.

In a heated exchange between ANC MPs and SABC board members in the National Assembly yesterday, the public broadcaster hit back at the ANC — saying it has taken sides in the board’s battles with the corporation’s suspended chief executive, Dali Mpofu.

The meeting was marked by squabbling from the outset, with some ANC MPs demanding that the board be prevented from making its presentation on its financial results because the committee had no confidence in it.

ANC MP Randy Pieterse said the board had no right to address the committee because many issues that had led to the committee passing a vote of no confidence in the board had not been resolved. These issues included Mpofu’s suspension and the refusal to resign of four board members whom ANC MPs said were imposed on them by former president Thabo Mbeki.

ANC MP Khotso Khumalo told the portfolio committee that its fight with the SABC board had its origins in the imposition by Ngonyama of four board members: deputy chairwoman Christine Qunta, Gloria Serobe, Andile Mbeki and Peter Vundla.

Ngonyama headed the ANC presidency at the time.

Khumalo said the four were appointed because of their loyalty to Mbeki .

The ANC claims Cope enjoys unfairly favourable coverage by the SABC.

ANC MP Lumka Yengeni told the meeting that the public broadcaster was giving “too much coverage” to Cope.

But this was disputed by board member Bheki Khumalo, who said the public broadcaster dedicated 60percent of its political news coverage to the ANC.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Times's website.