Communications minister Faith Muthambi has lashed out at Democratic Alliance communications spokesman Gavin Davis over a series of claims he made about her interference in the SABC board, and an investigation into leaks emanating from within at the public broadcaster.
Muthambi said she had reacted with “shock and horror” to Davis’ statement, and accused him of “violating his oath of office” and once more played the race card, saying she was being targeted as she is a black woman.
“The level of detail, however spurious and inaccurate, provides a prima facie evidence that Honourable Davis is behind the scenes, illegally colluding with some of the individuals whose interests he purports to be protecting,” she said in what Davis calls her “rather hysterical press statement”.
Muthambi is furious about the accusation that she is interfering in the SABC board. This came shortly after board member Professor Bongani Khumalo resigned. “Minister Faith Muthambi says that I have falsely accused her of unlawfully interfering in the SABC board,” said Davis, rebutting her accusations.
“I stand by this accusation for the simple reason that I have seen the letter that she sent to certain SABC board members. In the letter, the Minister threatens to recommend board members’ removal unless they give her good reasons for not doing so,” he said.
Davis also said it was odd Muthambi had denied there was an investigation at the SABC into the alleged ‘leaking’ of documents.
“Perhaps she should talk to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago. Yesterday Kganyago said that a decision to investigate the source of the leaks had been taken at the ‘highest level’ and that its purpose was to “find the culprits and deal with them accordingly,” he said, referring to a story on The Media Online in which Kganyago confirmed such an investigation.
But Muthambi believes information being leaked to the DA and the media is due to disaffected employees at the broadcaster. She said the actions of Davis “undermine the labour relations regime of the country which affords any aggrieved employees in any institution proper legal recourse”.
She then “strongly” advised Davis “not to act like an irresponsible shop steward with a clandestine mandate”.
However, Davis says the minister’s behaviour is unlawful. “This ministerial interference in the SABC board is unlawful because the minister has no power in law to remove board members or recommend their removal. According to section 15A of the Broadcasting Act, it is up to Parliament to recommend the removal of board members after due inquiry into their conduct, not the minister.
“This is precisely why Parliament dealt with the allegations against former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala. When asked about the Tshabalala matter at the time, Minister Muthambi correctly replied that it was ‘in Parliament’s hands’.”
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