Friday, May 28, 2010

SOS Calls for the Chair of the SABC Board to Resign

28TH MAY 2010

The SOS Campaign representing a number of trade unions, independent producer organisations and a host of NGOs, CBOs, academics and freedom of expression activists endorses the recent statements released by our trade union partners and our working group member, Media Monitoring Africa.

SOS once again congratulates board members for swiftly dealing with the corporate governance breaches around the appointment of the Head of News. However, SOS sees these issues in such a serious light that we call on the Chair of the SABC Board, Dr Ben Ngubane, to do the honourable thing, and resign.

We believe that the statement he released last Saturday (22 May 2010) defending his actions, is in itself indefensible. Dr Ngubane admits to the fact that he took the decision re: the appointment of the Head of News on his own. He states categorically – “I made the decision as a leader to instruct the GCEO, Mr Solly Mokoetle to finalise the appointment of Phil Molefe as GE: News and Current Affairs, because he satisfied all the requirements as agreed by all Board members.” But the Chair is not empowered to make decisions without the co-operation of the Board. A sub-committee of the Board had been set up to do the interviews, this committee was to make a recommendation to the Board and then the full Board was to take the final decision. Dr Ngubane thus openly admits to circumventing the internal processes of the SABC, contravening good corporate practices and protocols as stipulated in the Broadcasting Act, Public Finance Management Act, the Companies Act and King III.

As SOS we nominated Dr. Ben Ngubane for a position on the SABC Board because we believed he had excellent leadership qualities, a good understanding of the arts, and a strong commitment to building a new vision for public service broadcasting. However, given his present actions we sadly no longer have confidence in his ability to the lead the SABC through its present serious problems (the paying back of its deficit etc.) to build a new vibrant, pro-democracy institution.

If Dr Ngubane is not prepared to do the honourable thing and resign then we call on Parliament to hold an urgent public hearing into the matter. SOS believes that very swift action is needed in this regard. Given the very pressing issues that the SABC needs to attend to we can ill afford to draw out this leadership crisis.

SOS notes once again the findings of the Auditor General’s Report that the SABC needs “leadership from the front” and impeccable adherence to good corporate governance procedures going forward.

Finally, the Coalition notes that the Draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill touches on the roles of the SABC Board and management and also the role of oversight structures such as the Minister, Department of Communications, Parliament and the independent regulator, ICASA. We believe these roles need to be clarified in the Bill. This is to ensure that the latter’s roles and responsibilities, reporting and accountability lines are clear. This is critical as regards the swift resolution of crises such as the crises outlined above.

For more information please contact:

  • Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator - 082-926-6404
  • Patrick Craven – Cosatu Spokesperson – 082-8217456
  • Matankana Mathapo – Spokesperson CWU – 082-759-0900
  • Siphiwe Segodi – Freedom of Expression Network – 072-655-4177
  • William Bird – Executive Director Media Monitoring Africa – 082-887-1370
  • Melissa Moore – Acting Executive Director Freedom of Expression Institute – 082-924-8268
  • Rehad Desai – South African Screen Federation – 083-997-9204