SABC board nomination deadline postponed

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pretoria - The deadline for the public to nominate candidates to serve on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board has been postponed to 14 August.

Chairman of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications, Ismail Vadi, told BuaNews that the deadline was postponed from 31 July to 14 August.

"It was decided at a meeting between the committee and the interim board last week. It was postponed due to the narrow timeframe from which it was issued," said Mr Vadi.

He explained that the postponement had no relation to the 12-member task team set up by Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda, to turn around the situation at the broadcaster. This team is expected to report back to the minister periodically and will submit a final report at the end of October.

The Portfolio Committee embarked on the process of searching for new board members after the resolution to dissolve the previous board was adopted by the National Assembly and subsequently signed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in June.

The resolution followed an inquiry into the ailing board by the Portfolio Committee.

At the time, the committee had concluded unanimously that there was no possibility of the board being collectively able and legally competent to fulfill its statutory duties.

The inquiry had been necessitated by media reports relating to the resignation of the majority of board members; the broadcaster's cash flow crisis; the possibility of strike action by its employees; the protests by independent producers relating to the non-payment of fees to them; the various legal battles between the former Group CEO Dali Mpofu and the board as well as the perceived breakdown in effective corporate governance at the corporation.

All the political parties that participated in the inquiry commonly agreed that the SABC was in a "state of paralysis".

The inquiry found that there was a lack of common purpose and cohesion among members of the board and the executive management and this had impaired their ability to carry out their statutory fiduciary duties.

There was also evidence of serious lapses in sound operational management of the SABC by the executive management, which the committee believed warranted urgent attention by the government.

The committee also found that the board members themselves did not believe that they had the will or tenacity to continue fulfilling their duties and believed that they no longer enjoyed the confidence of political office bearers.

The Auditor General is currently conducting a forensic audit into the SABC's finances, as per one of the recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee.

The new 12 non-executive board members must be qualified and have experience and expertise in the fields of broadcasting policy and technology, broadcasting regulation, media law, business practice and finance, journalism, entertainment and education as well as labour.

They must also be committed to fairness, freedom of expression, the right of the public to be informed as well as openness and accountability. Board members must represent a broad cross-section of the population of the Republic of South Africa.

An interim board has been established to serve for a three-month period, while the process of nominating a new board is complete.

The interim board will focus primarily on short term interventions to address the issues faced by the broadcaster, such as filling vacant posts, governance and general operations at the corporation.