DA MP and shadow minister of communications, Gavin Davis, is losing patience with the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications, on which he sits, over its failure to replace SABC board members who have resigned or been removed over the past year.
“Frankly, our failure to recommend three candidates for appointment to the SABC Board is a dereliction of our duty to the South African public. It is immensely frustrating, not to mention deeply embarrassing, that our portfolio committee appears unable to fulfill one of its basic functions,” Davis said in a letter to chairperson of the PPCC, Joyce Moloi-Moropa.
Thembinkosi Bonakele, former chairpersonEllen Tshabalala and Bongani Khumalo all resigned from the public broadcaster’s board last year and early in 2015. Three other board members – Hope Zinde, Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi – are alleged to have been removed illegally. Their matter of whether their removal was legal or not is still being disputed.
Davis says the portfolio committee has “dragged its feet” for nine months in the matter of the members who resigned, leaving the board without a quorum, meaning it cannot make legally binding decisions.
“Over the last three months, I have requested that we deal with the filling of these vacancies on at least five occasions,” Davis said.
He set out a chronological account of the Committee’s interactions on this matter in the hope that this will “galvanise us into action”, he wrote.
17 December 2014: President Jacob Zumas asks the National Assembly to recommend a suitable candidate to replace Ms. Tshabalala. [See attached the relevant ATC report (no.1 of 23 January)].
10 March 2015: Davis wrote the attached letter requesting that the PPCC “inject more urgency into the process to shortlist candidates to replace Ms. Tshabalala”.
24 March 2015: The PPCC agreed on the five candidates to be shortlisted. [See attached the relevant Committee minutes.]
26 March 2015: The PPCC received notice that the interviews of the five shortlisted candidates would take place on 2 April, according to the attached interview schedule. The interviews never took place.
27 March 2015, the President requested the National Assembly to recommend two suitable candidates to replace Adv. Bonakele and Prof. Khumalo, and the matter was referred to the Portfolio Committee. [See relevant ATC report (no.36 of 1 April 2015)]
2 June 2015: the Portfolio Committee met to discuss the shortlisting of candidates for the posts vacated by Adv. Bonakele and Prof. Khumalo. It was agreed that the response to the Portfolio Committee’s advertisement had been poor in terms of both quality and quantity, and that the post should be re-advertised. [See attached minutes of that meeting compiled by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).]
4 August 2015: Davis proposes the PPCC expedite the filling of the posts. The chairperson says she needed to consult first and would brief the Committee at the next meeting. [See attached minutes.]
18 August 2015: Davis wrote to the chairperson to formally request the board members were replaced. Moloi-Moropa responded the next day saying “On the SABC Board matter, I am unable to respond at this point as I am still consulting and have not finalised as yet.”
1 September: Davis raises the matter again [see as attached PMG minutes]. Moloi-Moropa replies she was “still in the process of consulting the Chair of Chairs, the Hon. Cedric Frolick, on the matter and would report back to the Committee once you had received guidance”.
“I urge you to schedule an urgent special Portfolio Committee meeting to discuss the filling of the three SABC Board vacancies before the parliamentary term ends next week on 28 September. If we do not, I fear that the public’s trust in our ability to fulfill our duties will be irreparably damaged,” Davis wrote in the letter.
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