Stop the Muthambi Madness NOW!

Posted: 30 March 2017 | News - Media Release | Categories:

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition condemn in the strongest terms the latest act of interference by Minister Muthambi. Muthambi has issued a letter to the SABC Interim Board members telling them they are “required not to commence with your duties as an Interim Board member until the security clearance process has been concluded by the State Security Department”.   

The number of calls to remove Minister Muthambi will grow louder. Instead of respect for her position and the Constitution she is there to protect and promote, we are yet again witnessing abuse and madness.

Today, 30 March 2017, it emerged that Minister Muthambi issued letters to the newly appointed members of the SABC Interim Board.  The five members are well respected and demonstrate a mix of skills and experience that while their term is short, certainly should be able to start to unravel the mess that is the SABC.  Unfortunately, the letters issued by the Minister seem set to delay the Interim Board from commencing their work. 

To be clear this has not been a requirement before, and there exists no indication that any previous Interim Board or normal board members have had to be vetted.  The timing could not be worse, with the SABC finances in parlous state and a desperate need for the SABC to have experienced senior leadership.  Bear in mind there is currently no permanent CEO, COO or CFO, and there is no board! The mind boggles then as to why the Minister would act in such a seemingly illogical manner, that would further undermine the stability of the SABC.

Except there is method in the Minister’s madness. Because as long as there is no board, the Minister has the power to appoint any senior executives in an acting position, so Mr Aguma, can stay on, and she can continue to appoint any acting executive for as long as there is no Board.  Yet again, the steady hand of Ministerial interference will further undermine the independence and stability of the SABC.

At what point will the President act? We call on members of the Interim Board to adhere to their appointment by the President and take up the challenge of restoring the SABC without delay! We further call on Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications to summon the Minister to appear before them and account for her latest actions. We further call on the Minister to immediately withdraw the letters and to encourage the SABC Interim Board to get down to work as a matter of extreme urgency. Lastly, as we have done before, we call on the Minister to resign with immediate effect.  

The irony is that the Minister may be acting in the mistaken view that keeping the SABC in a state of crisis will service her political agenda.  Sadly, the Minister is mistaken.  Each act of interference, each act of seeking to undermine the independence of the SABC, serves instead to undermine the broader credibility of our democratically elected government.  Instead of helping her cause, it places the President under even greater pressure to shuffle her off to an embassy post, and deepens the existing factionalism within the ANC.

 

For More information call:

Thandi Smith (MMA Head of Policy) +2773 470 7306/thandis@mediamonitoringafrica.org OR

Duduetsang Makuse (SOS Coordinator) +2760 911 5889/duduetsang@soscoalition.org.za OR

William Bird (MMA Director) +2782 887 1370/williamb@mediamonitoringafrica.org