Secretary to Parliament joins Speaker in keeping report on SABC Inquiry liars locked away

The Acting Secretary to Parliament, Penelope Tyawa, has joined the Speaker of the National Assembly in trying to keep the report into those who lied during the SABC Inquiry from public scrutiny.
On 20 June 2017 I submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to a report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit detailing any witnesses who gave contradictory or misleading evidence during the SABC Inquiry.
The report was one of the key recommendations of the SABC Inquiry Report. Significantly, it was to be completed within 60 days “with the aim of criminal charges being laid”.
Yesterday, the Acting Secretary denied my application and, instead, made a vague undertaking that the report would be made available “by the end of August or soon thereafter”.
Bizarrely, Tyawa denied my application on the basis of section 24(1)(c) of PAIA which relates to a record that “has been prepared for submission to any legislature or a particular person but is yet to be submitted”.
This reasoning is laughable as Parliament’s Legal Services Unit completed the report and submitted it to Parliament on 5 June 2017 via its representative, the NA Speaker. It is now precisely the representative of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, who is protecting the persons implicated in the report by refusing to table it, which she is required to do “without delay” as per NA Rule 337(e).
I have written to the Acting Secretary asking her to correct her “typo” and look forward to her realisation that the NA Speaker is the representative of Parliament and not an entity independent thereof.
Clearly the report into those who lied during the SABC Inquiry implicate senior ANC and government officials, and Mbete is once again prioritising her role as ANC Chairperson over her role as Speaker.
Despite Mbete’s efforts, the DA will not allow those who misled the SABC Inquiry or provided false testimony, under oath, to escape accountability. Lying to Parliament is a serious offence and will not go unpunished.

One month later, report on those who lied in SABC Inquiry still sitting on Speaker’s desk

It has been a month since the report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying witnesses who gave false or misleading testimonies during the SABC Inquiry, was handed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete.
The SABC Inquiry Report recommended that Parliament’s Legal Services Unit “identify the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid”. The Legal Services Unit compiled this report and submitted to the Speaker, as required on 5 June 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Speaker has refused to table the report before Parliament for scrutiny – as its contents no doubt implicate a number of her ANC comrades.
Mbete must remember that her duty to Parliament is above her role as Chairperson of the ANC. Lying before Parliament is a serious offence and those found guilty must be held accountable, irrespective of their political affiliation or position.
Mbete doesn’t have any legal basis for withholding the report and her explanation, offered in National Assembly Programme Committee, that the implicated persons were being consulted doesn’t hold water. Parliament doesn’t have an obligation to consult with those who lied to it.
This seems like a last ditch attempt by the Speaker to protect her ANC comrades, like former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, from being held accountable for possibly lying during the SABC Inquiry.
Including Muthambi, it would appear that the following individuals gave contradictory evidence or may have misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry:

  • Former Company Secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys, who may have submitted doctored Board minutes to Parliament;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Ellen Tshabalala, who testified that there was political interference at the SABC and failed to provide evidence in that regard, when requested;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe, who testified that he did not brief his lawyers to launch an interdict against the SABC inquiry in his personal capacity, despite his lawyers clearly stating in court that Maguvhe submitted the application for the interdict in his personal capacity; and
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Dr Ben Ngubane, who testified that there was no political interference at the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary. He also insisted that The New Age arrangement made good business sense and that there was no cost to the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary.

On 6 June 2017, the DA wrote to the Speaker urging her to table the report in Parliament and on 20 June 2017, the DA submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to access the report. Nevertheless, the report has still not seen the light of day. It is shocking that Members of Parliament have to go to such lengths to gain access to reports emanating from their committee work.
Mbete has an obligation to table this report via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) to ensure that Parliament performs its oversight and ensure that those who lied face the full consequences of their actions.
The DA will not allow for those who lied before Parliament to escape accountability and we will continue to put pressure on the Speaker to make this report public.
We strongly encourage Mbete to table this report before Parliament.