The National Assembly yesterday adopted the Broadcasting Amendment Bill after making amendments that were necessary to bring it in line with the constitution. This came after President Kgalema Motlanthe referred the bill back to lawmakers.
by Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
ANC MP Khotso Khumalo, the party's communications portfolio whip, yesterday told The Star the committee was now waiting for Motlanthe to sign the bill into law. It would then summons the entire board to answer charges of failing to exercise its fiduciary duties.
Khumalo said this could happen before parliament is dissolved ahead of the April 22 national and provincial elections.
Motlanthe referred the bill back to parliament two weeks ago after expressing reservations about the constitutionality of a clause allowing for the entire board to be sacked - but making no provision for a proper inquiry. Opposition parties had also petitioned Motlanthe not to sign the bill, arguing that denying board members due process was a violation of the constitution.
ANC president Jacob Zuma was reported to have intervened and informed the party's study group on communications that they had to back down and agree to the proposed amendment.
Khumalo said yesterday the SABC board could be gone even before the election.
"As soon as the president signs the bill (parliament will summons the board)," he said, adding that one of the main charges against the board is that the SABC is running an overdraft of R500-million.
"It is one of the charges against (fired) chief executive officer (Dali Mpofu), but nothing is said (by the board) against the chief financial officer (Rob Nicholson)," explained Khumalo.
Khumalo also questioned the role of the board's audit committee in failing to address the financial crisis.
"The board should anticipate such issues and tell the National Treasury and parliament that they have a deficit," he said.
"Some of the issues include how the board has become (involved in) operational (matters), taking over procurement issues."
This related to the board's decision last year to overturn the SABC's procurement committee's recommendation to award the broadcasting rights contract for the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup, worth about R400-million, to local black-owned company Digital Horizons.
The board had instead intervened and gave the contract to Japanese company Sony, which has no black economic empowerment credentials.
Communications committee chairperson Ishmail Vadi also slated the board for its inability to address problems plaguing the public broadcaster.
Addressing the National Assembly yesterday, Vadi said the board had been unable to act on its legal mandate.
"It's locked into a conflict with its executive management. It's unable to provide effective corporate governance over a public entity. What must we do?" asked Vadi.
"The intention is to strengthen corporate governance and to ensure the board discharges its fiduciary responsibility effectively and honestly, and that is what is not happening. The SABC is facing a crisis," he added.
Courtesy of http://www.thestar.co.za