The chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on communications and the Democratic Alliance’s spokesman on communications have butted heads again, still over the issue of chair of the SABC board’s (lack of) qualifications.
Joyce Moloi-Moropa accused Gavin Davis of “posturing” for media houses when he asked for the issue of SABC board chair Ellen Tshabalala qualifications be added to the agenda for the meeting.
“I asked for the issue of the SABC chairperson’s qualifications to be put on the agenda. The committee chairperson said that she had asked Parliament’s legal unit to brief us at the end of the meeting,” Davis says.
“When the time came, the committee chairperson asked the media and the public to leave the room. I objected on the grounds that meetings should be open to the public, including the media,” he says.
Moloi-Moropa disagreed, saying because the item wasn’t part of the “official agenda”, the media should leave.
In a letter to Davis, Moloi-Moropa accused him of conducting a separate meeting within a meeting and that he should have advised her he was inviting “special guests of the Press Gallery Association” separately from the “normal process”.
“I have no idea what she means by me inviting the Press Gallery. It is complete fiction. Anyway, even if I had invited journalists, there should be no issue with that anyway,” Davis says.
Moloi-Moropa said she had “serious reservations on conducting a committee meeting only for the interest of media houses” and said Davis had already “spread the matter negatively all over media”.
Davis had in the meeting and via a letter to Moloi-Moropa queried why there had been such a delay in the response to his request that the committee probe the truth behind allegations, revealed after a City Press investigation, that Tshabalala had falsified her qualifications when applying for a post on the SABC board. She claimed to have a B.Com and a diploma in labour relations from Unisa, which the university says they have no record of.
Now parliament’s legal unit has launched a probe into the allegations so as to prepare a legal opinion for the committee.
Davis has objected to Moloi-Moropa’s letter. He has written back to her so as to “formally register” his discomfort at her decision to bar media and the public from hearing about the Tshabalala inquiry. “When I raised my objection to this on a point of order, you replied that the legal unit’s briefing on the inquiry into the SABC board chairperson’s qualifications was not on the official agenda of the meeting and was therefore not open to members of the public and the press,” he wrote.
Davis pointed to section 59 (1) (b) of the Constitution, which says the National Assembly must conduct its business in an open manner, and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public.
Davis wants a written explanation giving reasons for her decision to close the final part of the meeting to media and the public, and says she must cite the rule she invoked to justify the decision.
IMAGE: South Africa’s National Assembly/Wikimedia Creative Commons
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