The bill, approved by the National Assembly’s communications committee on August 13, provides – among other things – for the Assembly to play a major role in removing the SABC board members from office.R
align=justifyIn the Bill, provision is made for the National Assembly to recommend the removal from office of a board member by the “appointing body”, which consists of the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly. R
align=justifyDuncan says that this clause in the Bill is problematic. “The speaker should not have this power. Only the President should have the power to remove board members. This could result in (President Thabo) Mbeki delaying the removal of the board,” says Duncan.R
align=justifyShe adds that it is very important that parliament has the power to remove members of the board. “At the moment, the National Assembly can only recommend the removal of the board after due enquiry. The bill, as it stands, is a recipe for unaccountability. It collapses the separation of powers in the constitution.R
align=justify”It opens up the possibility of the removal of the board without just cause being shown. The way the bill is phrased could lead to the board appealing its removal.”R
align=justifyDuncan also believes that the bill is, in some cases, vague. “The bill could have clarified the selection criteria for board members. It should allow for transparency around the appointment of the board.”R
align=justifyShe recommends that the CVs of possible candidates and the names of the people who make the nominations should be published. A written motivation with explanations as to why specific people were short-listed should also be made public.R
align=justify”The bill should have also been a lot more specific in explaining the kinds of people who could be appointed to the interim board,” she adds.R
align=justifyThe new bill also makes the following provisions:R
align=justifyThe board will be appointed by the President in consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly.
align=justifyInstead of the President appointing the board chairman, the appointing body will do so on the recommendation of the National Assembly. A deputy chair will be appointed in the same way.
align=justifyProvision is also made for the National Assembly to recommend the removal from office of a board member by the appointing body for a number of reasons. These include misconduct, inability to perform duties efficiently, missing three consecutive board meetings without permission, and non-disclosure of interests.
align=justifyThe National Assembly can recommend the board’s dissolution if it fails to carry out its fiduciary duties, adhere to the charter, or to carry out its duties in terms of the Act.
align=justifyBoard members can resign by giving three months’ written notice.
align=justifyDuncan says the clearance of this bill has been pushed forward by a few weeks and has been fast-tracked prior to the next election. “The ANC’s (African National Congress) caucus within parliament is desperate to get rid of the board, as it is in a state. Three members of the board were imposed on the process.R
align=justify”The board is a mistake and a relic of the Mbeki era. This mistake needs to be corrected. Parliament is concerned that the board may continue over the election period and doubts the ability of the SABC to be impartial during the election.”