Parliament will conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the chair of the SABC’s board, Ellen Tshabalala, lied about her qualifications.
Democratic Alliance shadow communications minister, Gavin Davis, requested that the portfolio committee on communications, chaired by Joyce Moloi-Moropa, investigate allegations that Tshabalala did not have a B.Com or a diploma in labour relations, as she claimed on her CV.
“The chairperson of the committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, yesterday acknowledged that ‘a lot of time has passed’ and that the committee had ‘just had silence’ since the request on 14 July. She then handed over to a senior legal advisor from Parliament’s legal unit to brief the committee,” Davis said in a statement.
Davis earlier wrote to Moloi-Moropa asking why it had taken over a month for the committee to launch an enquiry into the allegations. He said it was unclear why Parliament’s legal unit had taken so long to form an opinion on the matter.
City Press newspaper broke the story on Tshabalala’s alleged lack of qualifications in the middle of July. She is also a non-executive director of Transnet. Public enterprises minister Lynne Brown has asked Transet board chair, Mafika Mkwanazi, to investigate the claims and report back to her. City Press, via a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to Unisa, discovered the university had no record of Tshabalala’s degree. The university’s director of legal services said “no qualification was awarded to the mentioned individual”.
Davis said the committee heard that the legal unit had received his request to investigate Tshabalala’s qualifications and was preparing a legal opinion to answer whether:
- There is a legal basis for such an inquiry;
- There is a prima facie case against Tshabalala;
- The portfolio committee has the competency to conduct an inquiry into the conduct of Tshabalala.
“The Committee heard further that Parliament’s legal unit has already requested Ms Tshabalala to respond to the allegations against her. This is in order to assist the legal unit with the drafting of the legal opinion. It is understood that Ms. Tshabalala was originally given until 12 August to respond, but that this had been extended to 26 August,” Davis said.
Davis said it was “encouraging” to know the matter was now being taken seriously. “We look forward to hearing Ms Tshabalala’s side of the story in due course,” he said.
Tshabalala is also involved in the DA’s case opposing the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer of the SABC, in which she played a major role. The case is being heard in Cape Town this week.
She has repeatedly stood by Motsoeneng, who is accused of falsifying his matric certificate, inflating his salary from R1.4 million to R2.5 million in one year, and “purging” employees. Public protector Thuli Madonsela, in her report ‘When Governance and Ethics Fail’ found he should be disciplined for dishonesty and abuse of power. She suggested the SABC appoint a new COO as a matter of urgency. Tshabalala, however, believes Motsoeneng has the public broadcaster’s interests at heart.