Leading members of staff of the public broadcaster have issued a public letter asking parliament to intervene in the crisis over the non-appointment of a permanent board. The Cape Messenger editor reports
The staff members wrote an open letter on the social media in which they warned that they believed “a recapture project of the public broadcaster is afoot”.
It is now ten days since the term of the interim board had expired. They point out that President Jacob Zuma has delayed the ratification of the permanent board members. These members had been selected by the relevant parliamentary committee and confirmed by parliament. Yet nothing was happening.
The journalists expressed concern that the Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo was preparing herself to extend the contracts of the current acting executives. “If the minister proceeds with such plans she would be usurping the powers of parliament or a board that should have been appointed by parliament.” they pointed out.
The City Press newspaper at the weekend reported that the president wanted to manipulate the board and wanted the state broadcaster to be compliant. The presidency has denied that this is the case. The Presidency said in a statement that the president had no intention of manipulating the process of appointing board members to the SABC to ensure that his preferred canddiates get the vacant positions in the executive.
The critical positions of CEO, chief financial officer and chief operating officer are up for grabs.
The journalists noted that: We wish to inform the executive arm of the state that we do not belong to them but to the people of South Africa via their public representatives – the parliament of the republic. They pointed out that in terms of the Companies Act, the current state of affairs amounts to reckless trading “as no one is accountable for the major decisions and transactions of the insolvent entity that we work for”.
The journalists noted that there had been a report of a meeting at Luthuli House – the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress – at which it was stated that the SABC news division was the “only propaganda tool left to the ANC”. The loss of this tool would be resisted by the governing party.
The journalists whom have signed the document include parliamentary journalist Lukhanyo Calata – who lost his job last year but was reinstated – Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, Busisiwe Ntuli, Krivani Pillay, Foeta Krige, Vuyo Mvoko, Jacques Steenkamp and Nonkululeko Zonke Smith. The latter is the convenor of the SABC 101 news technical staff.