ACDP in support of SABC Report and encourages similar Ad hoc Committees looking at Eskom and other parastatals

“Thank you Speaker,

This has been one of the most thorough and far-reaching inquires that I, as a member of the ACDP, have been involved in at Parliament and my thanks to all involved and the Chairperson and all the staff. This is what Parliamentary oversight should look like and this is what the public expect of us as parliamentarians. We were united across political lines in our focus of getting to the bottom of the rot that has beset the SABC. The inquiry made for riveting public viewing with many citizens being encouraged to see us working together to expose problems at the public broadcaster.

Regrettably, as highlighted by other members, the SABC did not accord Parliament the due respect it deserves, initially walking out of the inquiry, bringing a failed High Court urgent application to prevent the inquiry taking place, and then accusing it inter alia of “bias” and “Motsoeneng bashing”. While we admit that the funding model of the SABC needs to be reconsidered and we might not understand all the commercial sensitivities, let us make it very clear that we will not tolerate any disrespect for this august institution.

What was also most disconcerting was the intimidation and death threats experienced by certain witnesses, mainly among the SABC Eight. We consider these threats, which even continued whilst we were holding our hearing, as a threat against Parliament itself. Witnesses should be free to give evidence before any parliamentary committee without any threats or intimidation.

It also became very clear that there had been significant political interference at the SABC over many years. While this was not confined to the present minister, the honourable Faith Muthambi alone, the committee found that the minister displayed incompetence in carrying out her responsibilities as the Shareholder Representative. The evidence also suggested major shortcomings in her conduct, particularly relating to her apparent failure to lodge the October MOI amendments, as well as her role in Mr Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment as COO. And we, as the ACDP, therefore, consequently support the correctional recommendations suggested in the report.

We also focussed on the conflict of laws between the Broadcasting Act and the Companies Act. The Committee was of the view that the Broadcasting Act clearly trumped the Companies Act. However, the SABC and the Minister seemed to hold a different view.  If it was not abundantly clear, then the Broadcasting Act being the principal Act must be amended to make it clear that it trumps the Companies Act.

The ACDP also spent a lot of time going through the Auditor-General’s management letter and whilst it is very clear that the SABC is not technically insolvent, its assets exceed its liabilities. There are serious concerns about its cash-flow challenges, given the significant deterioration in its cash reserves.

The ACDP supports this Report, but encourages that we have similar Ad hoc Committees looking at Eskom and other parastatals as it is exercising our oversight function.”