Yesterday, we were shocked at the announcement that Mr Nhlanhla Nene will no longer be the Minister of Finance, but what was more shocking was that Faith Muthambi was still Minister of Communications. Even though there are a lot of speculations around Nene’s dismissal, Zuma’s move is something the country did not need right now. We were still recovering from the shocking move by Faith Muthambi on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. We think Faith should have been the one dismissed last night and here is why:
On 25 May 2014, Ms Faith Muthambi was appointed the Minister of Communications. She was the 5th Minister to serve the Department since Zuma took over office in 2009. That’s right, five in five. Not as bad the SABC but it does give us sympathy for the challenging environment the minister was appointed to. The move by President Zuma, was anticipated. We knew in the sector that Yunus Carrim was seen to be overachieving. He had this energy and interest in the sector. He listened and invited views from all sectors. Some didn’t share them. Enough about the very close to good enough Communications Minister we have had in a very long time.
When Faith was appointed, we knew her but we were still surprised. She hadn’t gone through the ANC ranks and her appointment surprised many within the ANC. The appointment was all the more surprising given that our experience of her in parliament was not the mover and shaker or even the super brightly shining star that would warrant such a rapid rise. Instead she was notable for her silences and not her zeal to act that’ll we had just seen with Minister Carrim.
The Minister has tabled to parliament the Broadcasting Act Amendment Bill, were it the first of April we would be convinced it was a joke made in poor taste. But it isn’t. However, it is a nightmare for our young democracy. Never mind steps backward it is a quantum leap backwards and more like a joyous ode to the serpent masters of apartheid. Aside from its clear attempt to undermine our democracy, the draft bill shows on so many levels, beyond the litany of errors raised, that the Minister and her office have failed and quite frankly she needs to step down and take her team with her. To be clear there is a need for an SABC bill which:
- calls for a good COO;
- is pro good governance;
- requires an independent board;
- allows parliament to do its job; and
- does not allow ICASA and the Minister to interfere.
The current bill is exactly the opposite of what is necessary.
How else can we understand this but as a power grab? It seems the Minister wants all the power and she wants it now! She also wants to reduce the number of board members from 11 to 9, and give herself the power to actually appoint the board. The question is, who is going to benefit from all of this? The public, the ANC, or the Government? Faith seems to have forgotten where the SABC comes from (or does she even know?) At this rate, she is going to want the Minister of Communications along with Intelligence to have offices at the SABC. The SABC as broken as it is has come a long way from what it used to be and Faith, we cannot simply take it back there. We will fight to retain it a public broadcaster.
Faith we have no faith in you. Your achievements are blighted by this draft bill and your previous scandals, its best that you step down. In fact the President should have dismissed you and not Nhlahla Nene.
In fairness to the Minister she can only shoulder some of the blame. Mr. President, why was she your best candidate in the 1st place? Was this the vision you had for SABC to be the state’s mouthpiece? If Faith goes Mr. President, the next Minister will be the 6th Minister to serve this department under your watch. We implore you get it right, you can even ask Thixo wa se George Goch to help you!
Carol Mohlala (Project Coordinator)