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What ails the SABC?

Mar 19 2013 15:37 *James-Brent Styan

(Picture: Supplied)

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THE root cause of the SABC’s problems is quite simply a matter of trust.

In fact, it’s possible that the public broadcaster may never have a stable board simply because political parties have elections every few years.

When a new ANC leadership gets elected, often before and after the fact, chaos reigns at the SABC.

This appears to be the case yet again following last year's ANC leadership conference in Mangaung.

This week we’ve seen the resignation from the SABC of six, make that seven, board members. This has now been followed up by a decision to disband the SABC board by parliament’s portfolio committee on communications.

An interim board will now be elected for at most the next six months.

What makes matters interesting is that the entire board will be disbanded, with no investigation into the goings-on under their leadership.

In fact it’s quite possible that some of the very members that resigned will be appointed to the interim board, as some of them have been nominated to serve on it.

Currently the SABC executive is also in disarray.

The acting chief financial officer, Gugu Duda, is suspended. SABC head of news Phil Molefe is still suspended, and details around the acting chief operating officer are still a little Hlaudi, as the tweet read.

Opposition MPs say out loud that the SABC board has collapsed “because of the ANC's meddling”.

“Is there even any use for opposition parties to nominate people for the SABC interim board?” Cope’s MP Julie Kilian said in the committee meeting, to loud jeering.

The chair, rightly, reminded her that the committee makes decisions as a committee and not as the ANC.

Still, Kilian has a point. The ANC dominates the committee, like all other committees in parliament, also rightly so as it is the ruling party and democracy does rule.

So ultimately, it is up to the ANC MPs on the committee to decide who they will go with for the board.

Interestingly, the ANC chief whip in parliament attended Tuesday's committee meeting where the board was disbanded - not a sight one often sees in portfolio meetings.

The future of the SABC is linked intricately to politics. It was true under apartheid, and it seems to be true today.

The SABC seems headed for record losses over the next three years, about R1bn as per treasury’s latest budgetary forecast.

The SABC also has many critical projects, including digital migration, that can’t afford to be delayed by leadership struggles.

Surely it’s time to put politics aside to get a board that is loyal to the corporation alone.

 - Fin24

*Follow James-Brent Styan on Twitter at @jamesstyan. Views expressed are his own.

 

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sabc  |  james-brent styan  |  media
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