The mass exodus of directors from the board of the SABC, along with the interference of communications minister – apparently well beyond her mandate – has prompted me, much against my will, to write about this crisis once again.
Believe me, I try very hard not to keep commenting on the SABC but it’s almost as though there is a plot in government to maintain interest in this sad and sorry affair for as long as possible.
I have to say, I battled to put pen to paper on the subject, apart from just going over the whole monumental cock-up again, but then it dawned on me that this is the week the country celebrates Human Rights Day.
Linking this to the SABC was very much tongue-in-cheek when I first thought of it, but the more I mulled it over, the more I became convinced that this trauma at high level is by no means trivial or some kind of joke for those who work there.
In fact, the way in which cadre deployment and ministerial interference has effectively sabotaged good governance must surely amount to a breach of the human rights of those poor rank and file workers at the SABC who are desperately trying to do their jobs.
They are being systematically demotivated by the puerile antics and childish petulance of those who are supposed to be in charge.
It is a disgrace.
Frankly, the minister concerned should be fired. And just accepting the resignation of the chairman and his deputy is not good enough. It is far too little, far too late.
The really sad part is that those who might be cheering the fact that the chairman chose to resign and that a whole bunch of board member quit are naive optimists if they think any of this is going to solve the problem.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications that has been tasked by the minister to find an interim board and that will eventually start the whole process of looking for a full, permanent board is just following ANC orders.
At least the majority of the committee which is, of course made of mostly ANC MPs, will be following party orders while the rest will be helpless to do anything about it except voice their objections. To which the deployed cadres will listen and then ignore.
Frankly, the last time this Portfolio Committee worked effectively was under the chairmanship of Nkenke Kekana.
At least he displayed a modicum of independence and made it his business to understand the complexities of the media business.
There were some good people on the latest SABC board, people who understood the media and broadcast industries. But they were people whose opinions on the board meant absolutely nothing if they even vaguely contradicted the wishes of the party.
So, there will probably be the usual parastatal interim board of yes-men and women and then eventually a new board will be selected by parliament.
Trouble is, the chairman is not selected by public nomination, or by the portfolio committee or by parliament.
The President appoints the chairman.
And that has been the problem all along. And as long as this continues, the SABC will be in a mess and its board dysfunctional.
A board of directors is only as good as the chairman. A weak, clueless, cadre-deployed link at the top just means a broken chain.
I am not in the least bit optimistic.
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