Friday, October 22, 2010

BEMAWU Media Statement re SABC Crisis


BEMAWU is calling on the President, Mr. Zuma and the Communications Portfolio Committee to act responsible and with the utmost urgency to remove the Chairperson of the SABC Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane for inter alia the following reasons:
His inability to perform his role as chairperson of the Board due to the total breakdown of trust and working relationship between him and the rest of the Board,

His demonstrated inability to carry out simple administrative functions like preparing documents for a meeting with an important body like the Portfolio Committee, appointed by Parliament to oversee the public broadcaster,

His failure to sign the delegation of authority letter to enable Robin Nicholson to properly manage the SABC in his acting capacity, and by doing so putting the SABC at severe risk by rendering all decision making on the highest level inoperative, which will have an effect on the SABC to meet it’s mandate in terms of programming and repayment of its loan,

This not only puts the SABC as an organisation at risk, but also our members, as they will be targeted first for retrenchments if the SABC cannot obtain another loan to meet its financial responsibilities.

His admission that he failed to produce a performance review. Our members are disciplined and dismissed for similar offence.

The Portfolio Committee’s admission that there is not much room for optimism about the affairs of the corporation, and it’s accurate observation that the board has failed to provide coherent leadership and to provide proper corporate governance over the SABC, for which Dr. Ngubane must take accountability.

The Board has failed to report, for which Dr Ngubane must be held accountable. It is a serious dereliction of duties. It shows disrespect for parliament and the people. He had sufficient notice to prepare, but failed. It is clear that by failing to sign an operational procedure like delegation of authority and failing to prepare for a meeting with his superiors, the portfolio committee, the chairperson of the board is obstructing progress and the ability of the SABC to meet its mandate.

Although Mr. Nicholson may not be the favourite to appoint as the acting GCEO, there is no prohibition in statue or regulation against his appointment as such and it is only in an acting capacity.

According to the portfolio committee, the board has failed. We know what the problem is. If a board cannot trust its chairman, he must be removed. It is important, and more so in the SABC’s situation that the Board must be united and functional. They are not. It’s divided between Dr. Ngubane the rest.

How can a board not be able to agree? Surely they have processes to follow if there is no agreement. Normally the majority rules, so why not at the SABC? It is unthinkable and unacceptable that the chairperson of one of the most important and influential boards in this country are telling parliament and the people they are unable to make decisions because the board cannot agree. It shows serious lack of ability to steer the public broadcaster. If the majority of the board agreed Nicholson should be appointed, Dr. Ngubane must sign, or he is in breach of corporate governance. If the majority of the board voted against his appointment, Nicholson cannot be appointed. Unless there is external influence, it should be a fairly simple exercise.

We do not understand why board members who have resigned were barred from participating in the meeting. They are serving notice and despite their resignations being accepted, they remain legally and otherwise members of the board until the end of their notice period.
With the precarious financial situation of the SABC the most urgent intervention is necessary. Failing to do so would make the overseers as guilty of breach of corporate governance as the board. Should the President and the portfolio committee not immediately removes the chairperson, the SABC will be seriously compromised. With its precarious financial position and the anticipated failure to meet its obligations, the SABC will have to pay cash for programs and other capital-intensive projects. It will simply not be able to broadcast soon, as they will not have the cash to trade .

Hannes du Buisson