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Urgent Release: Appoint SABC Board to Protect Public Interest

FOR URGENT RELEASE – SOS COALITIONAND MEDIA MONITORING AFRICA PRESS STATEMENT ON THE FLIP-FLOPPING OF THE PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS REGARDING FILLING SABC BOARD VACANCIES

27 February 2019

The SOS Coalition (SOS) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) note with alarm the flip-flopping by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications on the appointment of directors to fill the vacancies on the SABC Board. It has been like watching tennis – the vacancies will be filled, won’t be filled, will be filled, won’t be filled and now (as of 27 February 2019) apparently seem set to be filled again.

Itwould appear that sane heads in the ruling party have prevailed. For now.

The bottom line is that the SABC needs a quorate Board to continue the work done by current Board (the post-Hlaudi Board) charged with restoring the public broadcaster to fiscal and operational health. It is shameful that at least one of the Board positions has been vacant since December 2017- over 14 months.

The Portfolio Committee’s rush to finalise the new Board appointments before the national elections in May is entirely self-inflicted and reflects an ongoing and disgraceful dereliction of a legal duty imposed upon it in terms of the Broadcasting Act, 1999, namely to fill SABC Board vacancies as they arise.

MMA and SOS give notice to Parliament, the President and the broader public that:

  • they have jointly already briefed legal counsel and will approach the Constitutional Court directly and on an urgent basis in order to protect the public interest in ensuring a functional public broadcaster during what is likely to be a hotly-contested national election; and
  • if there are any further delays on the part of:
    • Parliament in shortlisting and interviewing shortlisted candidates for the SABC Board and in making recommendations to the President, before the rising of Parliament; and/or
    • on the part of the President, in duly appointing persons to fill the SABC Board vacancies, well before the elections

SOS and MMA will launch legal proceedings to compel Parliament and/or the President, as the case may be, to fulfill its or his legal duty in terms of the Broadcasting Act in order to protect the public interest.

Please direct any queries to William Bird: [+27828871370, williamb@mma.org.za], or Thandi Smith: [+27734707306, thandis@mma.org.za]

 

ENDS