SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition
SOS WELCOMES NEW MINISTER AND DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
SOS URGES CIVIL SOCIETY NOT TO PUT FORWARD NAMES FOR THE SABC BOARD UNTIL THE BOARD CHAIR AND OTHER ISSUES ARE RESOLVED
1 NOVEMBER 2010
SOS welcomes the appointment of the new Minister and Deputy Minister of Communications
SOS welcomes the appointment of Mr. Roy Padayachie as Minister of Communications and Mr. Obed Bapela as Deputy Minister. SOS believes that there are a number of serious challenges in the communications sector. We hope the new Minister and Deputy Minister will swiftly address these.
Some of the challenges include:
- The serious lack of capacity in the Department of Communications
- The serious corporate governance breaches and governance crises at the SABC
- Serious corporate governance crises at Sentech
- The lack of a policy review process as regards current draft legislation including the Public Service Broadcasting Bill and ICASA Amendment Bill
- Problems around government's shift from European digital standards to Japanese/ Brazilian standards without any clear explanations as to the rational behind these shifts or guarantees that the new standards will in fact ensure the manufacture of cheap, accessible set top boxes.
SOS will be requesting a meeting with the new Minister to raise these issues.
SOS urges civil society NOT to put forward names for the SABC Board
Further the SOS Coalition, following a special meeting of its working group, has decided NOT to put forward names for the SABC Board, until the following issues have been resolved:
- That the Chair of the Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane, either resigns or is removed by the Appointing Body (including Parliament and the President).
- That Parliament decisively deals with the various corporate governance breaches that have taken place at the SABC (including but not limited to the appointment of the Head of News, the Board's decision to appoint an Acting CEO from outside the Corporation in direct violation of the SABC Board's Articles of Association, and the Chair's refusal to sign the delegation of authority document in terms of the appointment of the Acting CEO.)
- That the remaining board members (including the executive members of the Board that are part of SABC management) publically commit themselves to scrupulous adherence to good corporate governance practices and protocols going forward.
- That Parliament commit to amending the Broadcasting Act, 1999 to state clearly that the Minister has no role to play in the appointment of the executive members of the Board. The appointment of the executive members is solely the responsibility of the Board. SOS pointed out on numerous occasions during the Broadcasting Amendment Bill process in 2008, the fact that the Broadcasting Act is problematically silent about the appointment of executive management. To date Parliament has not resolved this issue creating continuing crises around these appointments. Further, these gaps in the legislation encourage inappropriate Ministerial interference in the direct management and editorial control of the SABC.
The SOS Coalition believes that it cannot in good faith approach members of the public to stand for the SABC Board unless these problems have been decisively resolved. The SABC Board and oversight structures need to start 2011 with a commitment to good corporate governance otherwise the Corporation will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis. Civil society cannot stand by and let our SABC crumble.
For more information:
Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator – (082) 926-6404
Patrick Craven – Spokesperson Cosatu – (082) 821-7456
Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – (082) 759-0900
Oupa Lebogo – General Secretary – Creative Workers Union – (084)511-8763
William Bird – Director Media Monitoring Africa – (082) 887-1370
Faiza Smith – Director Misa-SA – (076) 995-9513
Hannes du Buisson – General Secretary Bemawu – (082) 920-8669