Johannesburg - HOPE Zinde, who was suspended from the SABC board this week, is being targeted for opposing the sale of the broadcaster’s archives to the pay TV company MultiChoice for R220 million, insiders say.
They told The Sunday Independent she was also being punished for not supporting the permanent appointment of the controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the corporation’s chief operating officer. He was revealed by the public protector to have lied about having a matric.
“Zinde is opposed to the sale of the crown jewels, which are a national heritage, for a pittance and has written a scathing report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications about this and other goings-on in the board, hence the haste to get rid of her illegally and even tarnish her image,” said one of the sources.
Motsoeneng is said to be the one who claimed to have evidence of the Zinde’s alleged wrongdoing
A cryptic statement issued by SABC board acting chairman Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe said directors held a special meeting on Thursday to deal with allegations against three board members, including, among others, accusations of “fraudulent conduct, raising matters of the board externally without a mandate and non-disclosure of conflict of interest”.
However, the meeting “managed to only deal with issues relating to only one non-executive director, Zinde (and the) board passed a vote of no-confidence and resolved to remove her with effect from March 12. The decision in this regard has already been communicated to all the relevant stakeholders,” said Maguvhe.
Board members had their cellphones, laptops and tablets taken away from them before the meeting to ensure they did not communicate with the outside world.
It was the first time this had happened since the board was appointed in September 2013.
One of the board members, Vuso Mavuso, objected and left in protest, with the other nine remaining.
Board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala resigned in shame at the end of last year following a scandal over her qualifications.
Another member, Professor Bongani Khumalo, left in January after Communications Minister Faith Muthambi sent him and some other members of the board letters asking them to justify why they should not be suspended.
Zinde, in a statement released on Thursday night, rejected her suspension as unlawful. She said she was still a non-executive board member of the SABC and “will continue to serve the public broadcaster in the same steadfast, honest, truthful, focused, vigorous, professional and ‘unfearful’ manner that I have been serving it since I was appointed”. She rejected the allegation that she divulged board information at the ANC workshop “with the contempt it deserves”.
She said she remained “loyal to the cause of ridding the SABC of most, if not all, the massive challenges it faces”. Zinde dismissed her suspension by “an illegal meeting” that she said was without a quorum. She is now looking to Parliament and the Presidency for recourse. “Righteousness always triumphs in the end, no matter how many storms, twists and manipulations. In the final analysis, it does triumph,” she declared.
On Saturday, Maguvhe said it was not true that the SABC archives had been sold. “All we’re doing is to license some of the content to them (MultiChoice) in the same way they license some of their content to us, and this happens across all different broadcasters.” He declined to comment on the price or reveal the details of the agreement.
Maguvhe said whether Zinde had agreed with the board’s decision on the deal was “neither here nor there. She may have not agreed but it is now binding on her.”
Maguvhe denied that she was being punished for attending the ANC workshop. The meeting was attended by three other board members, Krish Naidoo, Nomvuyo Mhlakaza and Aaron Tshidzumba.
“It was never an issue of people attending the meeting. What is at issue is the fact that she discussed decisions of the board in a different platform when was not mandated. She also distanced herself from decisions of the board, thereby distancing herself from the collective decision.”
He insisted Thursday’s special board meeting had a quorum when it took the decision to get rid of Zinde.
But the meeting could not proceed with the matters against other board members, Rachel Kalidas and Ronnie Lubisi, as the former and other board members, including Zinde, left the meeting before the matter was discussed, thus denying it a quorum.
Maguvhe said the questions over whether the board had followed due process or had been within its right to act against Zinde would be decided by the portfolio committee.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa came out in support of Zinde yesterday: “Hope Zinde is a member of the ANC. She attends meetings of the organisation in her own right and participates. She was invited to participate given her experience in the ICT sector.
“The allegations that she raised issues of the (SABC) in the ANC workshop are a fabrication,” he said.
Joyce Moloi-Moropa, chairwoman of the portfolio committee, said it would start dealing the matter at a meeting on the SABC on Tuesday. “We have not been approached on Zinde’s suspension but heard about it in the media. As we will be dealing with the SABC, we are going to oversee every programme in detail,” she said.
Muthambi spokesman Ayanda Holo said the minister was not in a position to comment, having just returned from the World Communication Forum in Davos.
The Sunday Independent