SABC strongman Hlaudi Motsoeneng remains safe in his new position for the moment after Parliament’s communications committee resolved on Wednesday to institute an inquiry into the fitness of the board to remain in office.
The ANC’s national executive committee and the Cabinet have called for Motsoeneng to be removed immediately.
Acting SABC group chief executive James Aguma said that Motsoeneng had been appointed to the position of group executive for corporate affairs by the broadcaster’s executives, not the board. He was satisfied it had been done correctly in terms of the delegation of authority contained in the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation.
Motsoeneng remained defiant in Parliament on Wednesday, telling parties that he was not going anywhere. He said he was still going to keep his position despite the decision of Parliament to initiate an inquiry to dissolve the SABC board.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu said they would not be intimidated by Motsoeneng, and assured him he would be out of the SABC by the end of the year.
Motsoeneng’s “rantings and chicken bravery” would not sway MPs from their quest to oust him. “We are not going to be intimidated by Hlaudi,” said Shivambu. “There’s no one who is indispensable in South Africa. We have got the rule of law; we have a Constitution that guides how things must be done so he must not treat us like we are kids… and harass us without consequences. The time of games has come to an end. He must live with that reality now.”
The shock resignation of board members Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso means the board is no longer able to meet the quorum of nine members required by the Broadcasting Act. As a result it cannot take any decisions.
Communications oversight committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana said this meant there was nothing that could be done to remove Motsoeneng because, even if the board had been willing to do so, it could not do it legally.
Members of the committee were anxious to take a resolution to dissolve the board on the spot after Naidoo and Mavuso announced their resignations during the meeting in Parliament on Wednesday.
“I have come to the conclusion that this board is dysfunctional. It should be scrapped and personally I would be resigning today as a board member,” said Naidoo, who has been vocal about how he had voted against the move to reinstate Motsoeneng. Naidoo, a lawyer, went on to tell the committee that the Supreme Court of Appeal had the final say on Motsoeneng’s future at the broadcaster. “That’s the final door, you are no longer an employee of the organisation, as simple as that,” said Naidoo.
Mavuso said like Naidoo, he had been ostracised when key decisions were made at board level. He told MPs that he had been given no opportunity to make input or see the presentation to MPs before it was tabled in the committee on Wednesday morning.
Parliament’s senior legal adviser, Ntuthuzelo Vanara, warned the disbandment of the board could be done only after a due inquiry, which he argued would be a lengthy process in which charges were put to the board members and they were given the opportunity to respond, as well as the right to legal representation.