Appointment of SABC employee as Interim Board Chair is improper

Issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP – DA Shadow Minister of Communications
15 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

Today is exactly four months since the last SABC Board dissolved on 15 October last year.

Now we have the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni , announcing unilaterally that both she and the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, have gone ahead and appointed a fulltime employee of the SABC – the CEO, Madoda Mxakwe, to be the Interim Board Chairperson.

Of course he can’t have a dual role – he can’t earn a salary from the SABC in the mornings and in the afternoon moonlight as the head of a non-existent Board. Nor does this bizarre appointment give him the power to sign off on the crucial decisions which should be taken by the Board.

Who has authorised this?

He was never interviewed for the position by our Committee in Parliament, or vetted for the position, or left his job as CEO to stand in this position. It is incomprehensible that she should make such an announcement.

I will be writing today to Ministers Ntshaveni and Godongwana and to the President demanding answers. In the meanwhile the SABC  languishes without a Board – leaving the CEO, CFO and COO with unfettered powers and zero oversight.

The elephant in the room is that not only did government and the Communications Portfolio Committee know exactly on what day the SABC Board’s term would expire and that they needed to prioritise the appointment of the new Board before then, but dithered until an unseemly last-minute rush finally saw the Board approved unanimously on the 6th of December in the National Assembly.

The names were given immediately to President Ramaphosa for approval and absolutely nothing has happened since then.  It was only at the start of January that the Presidency requested the CVs and clearance certificates of the proposed Board members – but since then, radio silence.

Once apartheid’s principal propaganda tool, the SABC was re-invented after liberation into Africa’s finest public service broadcaster – until, after the Mandela years and the first Mbeki term, the ANC began interfering.  And that, it is apparent, is exactly what they are doing today.