Death threats, intimidation of key witnesses and cars being shot at will now form part of the parliamentary inquiry into the SABC, which is left with just one board member.
The parliamentary ad hoc committee set up to probe the SABC board’s fitness to hold office is also considering working on weekends, and possibly Christmas Day, to get to the bottom of the problems plaguing the public broadcaster.
The committee sat yesterday as Pres. Zuma accepted the resignations of Vuyo Mhlakaza and Aaron Tshidzumba as board members, leaving only chairman of the board Mbulaheni Maguvhe in his position.
It is likely to see former public protector Thuli Madonsela being called as a key witness despite opposition from some ANC MPs.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi is expected to testify.
The committee also agreed that Mhlakaza and Tshidzumba should be called in to testify. It further adopted the EFF’s proposal that senior SABC journalist Sophie Mokoena should be added to the witness list.
According to committee chairman Vincent Smith they will start their work on November 29.
Smith, an ANC MP, said hearings were expected to end on December 9, when parliament rises.
But he said if they needed to work on Christmas Day, “so be it”.
“After having deliberated on the hearings, we will do a draft report. We will consider the draft report on January 24,” he said.
He said they would request minutes and transcripts on documents relating to, among others, the MultiChoice deal from the SABC group secretary. They will also request minutes and transcripts on the removal of former board members Hope Zinde and Ronnie Lubisi as well as the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as SABC chief operating officer and acting CEO James Aguma’s appointment as chief financial officer.
Madonsela investigated Motsoeneng’s appointment before releasing her report, titled When Governance and Ethics Fail.
In her report, Madonsela found that Motsoeneng had fabricated his matric qualification; purged staff members who disagreed with him; and had increased his salary, from R1.5-million to R2.4-million in a year.
The crisis at the SABC is largely about Motsoeneng. He lost his job in September when the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his leave to appeal against a ruling by the Cape Town High Court setting aside his permanent appointment as chief operating officer.
The SABC then announced it had reappointed Motsoeneng to his previous position as the corporate affairs executive. That prompted the resignation last month of two board members – Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso.
Media reports relating to incidents of intimidation and death threats targeted at SABC journalists emerged at the weekend.