The SABC board and management are safe for now, as MPs backtrack on calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the struggling public broadcaster.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and SABC management appeared before the committee yesterday to account on various decisions taken by the broadcaster.
Committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana opened the meeting by first dealing with reports of an inquiry, following last week’s statement by DA MP Phumzile van Damme that the committee had agreed to an inquiry.
On August 16, the communications committee did an about-turn on the SABC, agreeing in principle to a request for a parliamentary inquiry into the SABC.
MPs made yet another U-turn yesterday, dismissing any call for an inquiry into the SABC.
“Yes an inquiry is in the rules of parliament, but we are meeting with the department to hear what they say about all these issues of the SABC and Icasa,” Maxegwana said.
He said the committee had only had three hours to interrogate the SABC and other entities.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Mulder said he believed an inquiry was necessary.
ANC MP Mziwamadoda Kalako dismissed the call, saying the committee should refrain from “jumping” for an inquiry without first engaging the SABC.
Van Damme said she was disappointed as the committee appeared to be backtracking.
“We agreed as a committee that an inquiry was needed,” she said.
Van Damme said after the meeting that she would write to the chairman and ask for written reasons as to why the parliamentary inquiry “has effectively been abandoned by the ANC in committee despite its being agreed to in principle”.
She said the members of the board should all be fired.
A defiant SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng attacked MPs, accusing them of not being honourable.
“You are not adhering to the oath that has been taken, especially [the] honourable member here of the DA,” he said.
“How are we going to respect this committee? You should also be honourable. Some of members are not honourable in this case,” Motsoeneng said, before being ordered by Maxegwana to retract his statement.
Motsoeneng went as far as asking: “Why should I account to you when you don’t give us money?”
He said some political parties colluded with certain print media and commercial broadcasters.