24 February 2023
Urgent Litigation: Appointment of the SABC Board
JOHANNESBURG, 24 February 2023 – The ongoing failure of the President to appoint the
SABC Board has left Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) with no option but to approach the
Constitutional Court to compel the President to fulfil his constitutional mandate and appoint
the twelve non-executive members to the SABC.
The perils of the SABC operating without a board have been highlighted here and here.
Since the end of the term of the previous Board and shortlisting of the candidates for the
new Board, MMA has on numerous occasions corresponded with the President. The focus of
our correspondence was to request the President to appoint the Board – 132 days later, the
Board has yet to be appointed.
The importance of the SABC Board cannot be overemphasised. The Board fulfils a key role in
enabling the public broadcaster to provide news and information to the nation. It is trite
that the public broadcaster has an indispensable role in fostering democracy and the free
flow of information. Each day that goes by without a Board, the proper functioning of the
public broadcaster is jeopardised, which in turn threatens the functioning of our
Given this, we have thus been left with no choice but to bring an urgent application to the
Constitutional Court for an order compelling the President to fulfil this obligation diligently
and without further delay and appoint the twelve Board members selected by the National
According to section 13(1) of the Broadcasting Act of 1999, “The twelve non-executive
members of the Board must be appointed by the President on the advice of the National
Assembly.” The plain and purposive interpretation of this provision is that the President has
no discretion or veto over the appointment of the twelve members advised by the National
To date, it appears the President is assuming powers we argue he does not have.
Specifically, that he does not have the ability to veto or delay making these appointments.
Were the President to have such power, it would potentially, fatally, undermine the
independence of the SABC from the Executive. The design of the SABC is that it is
independent from the executive government. The Broadcasting Act and the Constitution
require the SABC to be meaningfully independent from the executive government,
Where the President, or indeed any other interested body, has concerns over the
appointment of one or more members of the SABC Board, there is nothing preventing them
from taking such appointments on legal review.
Some two months later, and with the SABC’s financial year end looming, not only is the
SABC in a profoundly perilous position with a very real threat of insolvency, but if there is no Board there is no governance of the SABC and the ability of the SABC to fulfil its important constitutional role is jeopardised. This in turn means that tens of millions of people living in South Africa (who rely on it for news and information) face the possiblity of their fundamental right to access to information being denied. All this threatens our democratic society.
The Constitutional Court application can be found here.
For further information, please contact:
William Bird, Director, MMA
Contact: 0828871370, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thandi Smith, Head of Programmes, MMA
Contact: 0734707306, email@example.com
Azola Dayile, Advocacy Litigation Lobbying Programme Manager, MMA
Contact: 0658917220, firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Monitoring Africa‘s vision is a responsible, quality media that enables an engaged
and informed citizenry in Africa and across the world. MMA aims to promote the
development of a free, fair, ethical and critical media culture in South Africa and the rest of
the continent. To achieve MMA’s vision, the three key areas that MMA seeks to address
through a human rights-based approach are: media ethics, media quality and media
For more information about MMA and its work for
children visit www.mediamonitoringafrica.org
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