Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, Mike Waters MP, during the discussion on the adoption of the Final Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Board Inquiry.
At the outset let me thank the Chair of the ad-hoc committee, Hon Smith, for the manner in which he chaired the committee.
Millions of South Africans tuned in to see how Parliament was going to save the SABC, and many were surprised at how MP’s from across the political spectrum held the Minister and board members to account. In the main, political differences were put aside to the good of the people.
The 82-page report has all the ingredients of a Shakespeare tragedy from treachery, corruption, deceit, intimidation, abuse of power, trickery and sheer greed.
The main characters in this tragedy are the Minister of Communications, Hon Faith Muthambi and Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, likened to Lady Mac Beth and Lord Mac Beth. With the journalists and staff being the victims.
Both the Minister and Mr Motsoeneng believed that the SABC was their own fiefdom to do with as they pleased to further a broader political agenda. This reign of terror was aided and abetted by some not all of the board members, the company Secretary and by the majority of the MP’s serving on the Communications Portfolio Committee. I am proud to state that DA MP’s did everything in their power to expose the Minister’s blatant abuse of power.
In addition, she committed perjury by giving the committee false evidence while under oath. This, Madam Speaker, is of such a serious nature that criminal charges must be brought against the Minister.
But let’s start at the beginning of the Minister’s term of office, back in 2014 where on 26 September the Minister signed a Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. This MOI, as Hon Davis pointed out on the 8 February in a letter to the then board Chairperson Professor Maghuve, would, amongst other things, destroy the independence of the public broadcaster by giving the Minister overarching control of the running of the SABC, in contravention of section 11 of the Broadcasting Act and giving herself new powers to waive the requirement for the board to advertise and shortlist candidates who apply for the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operations Officer.
Paragraph 9.1.2 states, “During her evidence the Minister insisted that amendments to the MOI were effected in accordance with both the Broadcasting Act and the Companies Act. She stated that although legislation did not require her to do so, the Ministry had consulted the Board on the amendments as a courtesy before they were submitted to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). She had also briefed the Portfolio Committee on the MOI in June 2015. According to the Minister, neither the Board, nor the Portfolio Committee had raised any reservations about the impact of the amendments or the manner in which they were processed.”
Let us unpack the paragraph. No, I repeat no MOI was ever submitted to the Minister. The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the ad-hoc committee asked CIPC for proof of a submission by the Minister which they could not find.
With regards to the Minister’s statement that neither the Board nor the Portfolio Committee had raised any reservations about the impact of the amended MOI again, the facts speak a different truth, Minister. The minutes of the board meeting clearly show that some board members did have reservations and with regards to the Portfolio Committee meetings minutes the DA’s Hon Davis as well as COPE and the EFF all raised reservations.
So why lie Minister?
I can answer that for you.
You knew that the amendments to the MOI, probably assisted by Mr Motsoeneng, were a transgression of the Broadcasting Act.
Paragraph 23.1.7 states, “The MOI signed in October 2014 as well as the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act, demonstrate efforts to concentrate power in the Ministry by curtailing and removing the powers of both the Board as the accounting authority, and Parliament’s role in the appointment and removal of non-executive
Board members. It also strips the Board of its role in the appointment of the executives.”
In addition, paragraph 23.2.2, the Committee also notes from Board minutes of a meeting that took place on 7 July 2014, that the Minister may have, directly or indirectly, pressurised the Board to appoint Mr Motsoeneng in the COO position. Was it coincidental, Minister, that you just happened to be lurking outside the board meeting at 11 pm the night that it was decided to appoint Mr Motsoeneng as the COO?
Despite the Public Protector having found adverse findings against Mr Motsoeneng, you found it fit not to advertise the COO position and to appoint him into that position.
Madam Speaker, the ad-hoc committee found that the Minister displayed incompetence in carrying out her responsibilities. In addition, the Minister interfered in some of the Board’s decision-making and processes.
The report recommends that, given the Ministers violations, Parliament must refer any violations of the Constitution, Privileges Act, the Executive Code of Ethics and/or the Broadcasting Act to the Ethics Committee and/or the Presidency for processing.
As the Executive Members Ethics Act dictates that Public Protector investigates any violations and the fact the ad-hoc committee felt no need to refer the Minister to the Public Protector, the DA will be writing to the Public Protector to conduct such an investigation.
The great late George Michael said, “we gotta have Faith.” Unfortunately, the DA no longer has faith in Minister Muthambi and she must be fired.