Zuma should drop Muthambi‚ SABC parliament committee suggests

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi  File picture: Esa Alexander
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi
File picture: Esa Alexander

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi’s job may be on the line after a parliamentary ad hoc committee looking into the crisis at the SABC on Friday recommended that President Jacob Zuma “seriously reconsider” the “desirability” of letting her continue in the role.

Parliament announced the recommendation via Twitter on Friday‚ as it summarised members statements. These included:

“The President should exercise his constitutional duties in relation to Minister Muthambi.”

“Committee agree that President Zuma should seriously reconsider desirability of Muthambi retaining her portfolio.”

“The MOI signed by Minister Muthambi in October 2014 (that concentrates certain Board powers in the hands on the Executive management) is invalid in the opinion of the Committee.”

“The Committee agrees that the fact that the October 2014 MOI was not registered means that it has not taken effect in law.”

A committee member referred to her as an unreliable witness because of the “many inconsistencies” in her evidence.

In January‚ a leaked report on the committee’s work was scathing of the Minister. It criticised her for unduly interfering in matters concerning the board. The committee said this contributed to the board’s failure to uphold its fiduciary duties. The working document also criticised Muthambi for insisting that the Companies Act trumped the Broadcasting Act when it came to SABC matters.

The issues date back to the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as permanent chief operating officer in 2014.

Motsoeneng was appointed despite a damning report by the public protector‚ which found that he had fabricated a matric qualification‚ purged those he disagreed with and irregularly increased his salary from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year.

The public protector recommended that he be disciplined. But the SABC went on to confirm Motsoeneng as its chief operating officer. The recruitment process‚ including interviews‚ was not complied with and the position was never advertised.

Testimony suggested that Motsoeneng was at the centre of the divisions within all boards between 2009 and 2016.

He was suspended from SABC two months ago when the High Court in the Western Cape ruled that his appointment was both unlawful and unconstitutional.

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