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CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma's office on Thursday responded to criticism of his failure to date to confirm the appointment of new board members of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) by saying he needed to consider their fitness for the position and verify their qualifications.

Parliament's portfolio committee on communications submitted 12 names to Zuma on September 5 for approval and appointment as non-executive members of the SABC board.

"He now has to satisfy himself that they are fit and proper persons to serve on the board and that they possess all the qualifications they claim to have," his spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said.

He pointed out that the SABC had previously seen controversy about misrepresentation of qualifications. 

"It should be recalled that we have had instances in the past in which there were misrepresentations about qualifications and other matters."

The best-known incidence of this did not involve the board but pro-Zuma former chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was found by the Public Protector to have lied about having passed matric.

Ngqulunga said the presidency and the department of communications were also checking that all those recommended for appointment to the board had security clearance and South African citizenship.

"The presidency is aware that the SABC currently does not have a board and is therefore treating the matter with the urgency it deserves."

The last board was dissolved in March and the term of office of the interim board expired on Tuesday.

Parliament recommended that the president appoint Michael Markovitz, Khanyisile Kweyama, Mathatha Tsedu, Nomvuyiso Batyi, Rachel Kalidass, Victor Rambau, John Matisonn, Jack Phalane, Krish Naidoo, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Dinkanyane Mohuba and Bonbumusa Makhathini as new board members.

The opposition has called on Zuma to act without delay, saying the release of the SABC's annual report for the 2016/17 financial year added to the urgency of putting a new board in place as it paints a dire picture of the broadcaster's finances.

The figures include recorded losses of R997 million after taxes, contingent liabilities of R952 million, wasteful spending of just under R150 million and a bonus of R11.5 million for Motsoeneng.

- AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

(Edited by Lindiz van Zilla)