I will today submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to a report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit detailing any witnesses who gave contradictory or misleading evidence during the SABC Inquiry.
During today’s National Assembly Programme Committee, I asked when the report was going to be tabled. National Assembly Speaker, Baleka Mbete, replied that her Office had sought legal advice and that she would first be engaging with the implicated parties. It is unclear why she has chosen to do this, and under what authority, and how long this process will take. I asked, pointedly, if we could at least be given an assurance that report will not be sanitised or redacted.
The report was one of the key recommendations of the SABC Inquiry Report and Parliament’s Legal Services were tasked with “identify[ing] the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid.” This report into false information or false testimony was completed by 5 June and a copy was handed to the Speaker’s Office, but is yet to be tabled in Parliament.
The Speaker is now obliged to table this report before the House, via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC), as the report was a recommendation of an ad hoc committee and not a personal undertaking. It should also be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Communications where the ad hoc committee originated.
The Ad Hoc Committee into the SABC was a stellar example of how Parliament, through diligence and multi-party cooperation, held the Executive to account and addressed governance issues at an ailing state-owned entity.
It would be a massive disservice to everyone involved in the committee that those who misled the enquiry or provided false testimony, under oath, be allowed to escape accountability and censure.