SABC board chairwoman Zandile Ellen Tshabalala

Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma will be asked to immediately suspend SABC board chairwoman Zandile Ellen Tshabalala pending the outcome of an inquiry into her conduct for misrepresenting her academic qualifications.

The portfolio committee on communications yesterday unanimously backed the establishment of an inquiry and would make the recommendation to Zuma.

The law requires that the president approves the appointment of the SABC board, as well as the suspension and removal of its members.

DA MP Gavin Davis said he had received confirmation from Unisa that Tshabalala never received a BCom degree or a diploma in labour relations from that institution.

The revelations against Tshabalala were spotlighted two months ago after Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment as permanent chief operations officer of the SABC came into question.

Motsoeneng’s appointment caused a political storm, with opposition parties questioning it on the basis that he did not have a matric and that the public protector had recommended action against him for lying about his qualifications and inflating his salary.

The matter is now the subject of a court process after the DA challenged Communications Minister Faith Muthambi’s decision to endorse Motsoeneng’s appointment by the board.

The chairwoman of the portfolio committee on communications, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, said the inquiry into Tshabalala’s conduct would be established in line with the Broadcasting Act.

The senior legal adviser to Parliament, Ntuthuzelo Vanara, told the committee that Tshabalala must be given a week to respond in full.

Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said the committee could set processes in motion, but it was Zuma who made the final decision on the appointment or removal of board members.

“I want to advise members of the portfolio committee that the chairperson of the board is appointed by the president and Parliament recommends,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Moloi-Moropa said they needed to get the sitting of Parliament to approve the committee’s recommendations to Zuma to suspend Tshabalala immediately.

Parliament is set to make the recommendations next week.

The SABC board was appointed by then acting president Kgalema Motlanthe exactly a year ago after Parliament had recommended 12 candidates including Tshabalala. Zuma was out of the country when Motlanthe appointed the board.

Moloi-Moropa said the committee would meet next week to finalise the details of the inquiry and its terms of reference. She said the matter needed to be concluded speedily.

ANC MP Mziwamadoda Kalako said the matter had been dragging on for a long time and an inquiry into Tshabalala must be set up.

“This leaves us without any alternative now because we have been waiting for this proof. It means the committee must institute an inquiry. That inquiry will have implications for her role on the board,” said Kalako.

Another ANC MP, Ezekiel Kekana, proposed that Tshabalala be suspended with immediate effect until the inquiry was concluded. He was backed by the committee.

Vanara said Tshabalala would be given all the details of the inquiry and must respond in a week’s time.

Tshabalala could be suspended as early as next week.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago had not responded to calls or text messages at the time of going to press.