President Cyril Ramaphosa has succumbed to the pressures of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and civil society to appoint 8 new members to the SABC board. We hope this will bring stability to the embattled public broadcaster which has been functioning with an inquorate board for the past few months.
The DA remains steadfast in our strong objections to the inclusion of Professor Sathasivan Cooper. The report to the Education Minister portraying him as “manipulative” and prone to “surrounding himself with acolytes” is still outstanding. There are serious allegations hanging over his head and we implore the rest of the board to not be intimidated by him and remain steadfast in its goals.
According to reports President Ramaphosa met with Communications Telecommunication and Postal Services Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams a day before making his decision. Section 13 of the Broadcasting Act is clear that non-executive members of the SABC Board must be appointed by the President on the advice of the National Assembly. The Minister should not have been consulted as the board should be completely independent of her. This is yet another example of the ANC trying to meddle with the independence of the SABC.
We also take note that Unisa’s Facilities Vice-Principal, Dr. Marcia Socikwa, has been suspended following protests from the National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu). They called for her removal claiming she has costed thousands of students their bursaries and that the university has ignored claims of bullying, abuse and harassment of staff members. We are still waiting on the internal report on claims of racism, and the appointment of the son of Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, without following proper procedure. If the report does not exonerate her, she must resign with immediate effect.
Despite the ANC not considering any candidates proposed by opposition parties, we wish the board well in its task. The SABC is facing serious financial difficulties and it will take skill, grit and tough decisions to turn it around.