UPDATE: No shortlist for SABC board as process put on ice - for now | Fin24
 
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UPDATE: No shortlist for SABC board as process put on ice - for now

Feb 26 2019 14:02
Fin24

What should have been a meeting of the oversight committee on communications to shortlist candidates for the South African Broadcasting Corporation's board on Tuesday degenerated into a heated standoff between MPs about whether they were rushing the process.

December saw the resignation of four members of the SABC board, namely former City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu, Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama and John Mattison. This left the board unable to form a quorum.

The committee was meant to announce a shortlist of 24 candidates who will be interviewed to fill eight vacancies at the board. 

However EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Tuesday he found it unwise to rush the process of shortlisting candidates some 80 days before the May elections with MPs preoccupied with campaigning.

"I am not comfortable because it seems to me that we are rushing the process of appointing the board. I have been here before. This is the fourth time we are doing something like this and I don’t think we have made a diagnosis of what went wrong in the first place," Ndlozi said.

Ndlozi said the committee should hold "exit interviews" with the outgoing board members to understand what systemic challenges the SABC faced before moving to the shortlisting process. He recommended that these interviews take place on March 5. 

Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile Van Damme, meanwhile, was vocal in her objection to the suggestion of pushing the shortlisting process back. She said exit interviews could be held after shortlist candidates were chosen and appointed.

"Honourable member Ndlozi might not have been here as regularly as us, but we are not rushing this process at all. In fact this is a delay that has been going on for too long. SABC is in a financial crisis with a board that can’t quorate. We can do exit interviews after the fact, but right now we need to fill these vacancies," said Van Damme.

Van Damme suggested that the delays in appointing board members to the SABC was sinister. Committee chair Hlengiwe Mkhize said the committee program would have to be reworked and distributed to members by next Tuesday.

Van Damme could be heard playfully shouting to Ndlozi, "weNdlozi. Ngizokubamba (I’m going to get you for that). After school is after school! Umoshile (you messed up)."

In a short statement following the meeting, the Committee said it had resolved to put the process on ice.

"Given the history of challenges at the SABC board, the committee decided to conduct exit interviews with those who resigned from the current board.

"The remaining four non-executive members in the current board will be invited to provide progress reports on investigations into board member Mr Dinkwanyane Mohuba’s qualifications, the turnaround strategy, labour relations issues and progress with implementing the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee."

It said the exit interviews will be conducted on March 5.

“It is important for the public to understand the amount of effort the department has taken to resolve the financial situation at the SABC, whereby the Minister has reported that a team has been put together to assist the SABC in producing financial projections, which will stabilise the SABC,” said Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Chairperson of the committee.

Mkhize said the committee is determined to be rigorous in its processes, including vetting qualifications and security clearance for applicants, to avoid the recurrence of individuals misleading Parliament.

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