Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SOS Calls for Resignation of the SABC Board Chair

The SOS (Support Public Broadcasting Coalition) notes the latest controversy that has engulfed the SABC; and in particular its chairperson, Ms. Ellen Tshabalala. 

According to media reports Ms. Tshablalala said at a Human Rights Day event in KwaMashu that “this government [the ANC] knows where it is going: it has a history,” and further told people “do not follow political parties [they] do not know where they are going.” 

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago however has contested the reporting of her comments saying that she merely stated that government lead by the ANC has a history of working with business to change people’s lives and that there are many political parties and people must know who they are voting for. 

Coalition members feel that despite this clarification, the Chair has crossed an important boundary of safeguarding the independence of our public broadcaster. A strong perception has been created that she was campaigning for the ruling party.  

The Coalition believes that if the SABC wants our trust as the people of South Africa, it must expressly distance itself from party politicking. Beyond putting pressure on government to finance it appropriately, politicians must keep their hands off our SABC because it is ours and not an extension of party media units. The SABC must be left alone and allowed to confine itself to doing its job, which is to educate and inform us without bias, without fear and without favour.  

Coalition members believe that there are a number of further strong reasons why it is essential for the SABC Chair to resign. These include:

  • Her controversial support including her refusal to suspend the SABC’s Acting COO despite very serious allegations of corruption and fraud;
  • Her refusal to move ahead and implement the recommendations of the Public Protector’s Report – “When Governance Fails”; and
  • Her proposal to take over as acting CEO of the SABC when this flies in the face of basic principles of good corporate governance. 

In order for us to begin seeing an SABC that works, the Coalition believes that four simple things need to be implemented with immediate effect: 

  1. The Chair must resign;
  2. The SABC Board must publically distance itself from any form of electioneering;
  3. The SABC Board must move for the adoption of the Public Protector's Report and the urgent and immediate implementation of its recommendations; and
  4. The SABC Board must once and for all publicly reject the outrageous call for "70% good news”.  

The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition incorporates a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), SECTION27 and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists. 

For more information contact: Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi, Coordinator, 076 084 8077 or info@soscoalition.org.za