Cape Town - Parliamentarians heard on Thursday that the SABC board was not appointed yet because President Cyril Ramaphosa was seeking clarity on the vetting of the nominees and why there were additional candidates to choose from.
This emerged when EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi enquired at the meeting of the programme committee why Ramaphosa has not approved the new board though names were approved by Parliament last December.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed that the approved names were forwarded to the presidency after Parliament approved a report from the committee.
“We have received a letter which sought clarity on the matter of vetting. Not only that, but the committee decided to send a list of 12 people and an additional three,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said it turned out that Parliament should not have given discretion to Ramaphosa with a list of three additional people.
“That matter is now with the chair of the committee for them to provide guidance. The legal opinion of Parliament says, actually, it was enough for the committee to provide the list of 12, not an extra list from which the president should select members of the SABC board,” she said, adding that the nominated people were vetted.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said Parliament had been put under spotlight as if it had not done its work.
“This is not the first time that there are a number of names supposed to be sent to the president,” Majodina said.
She explained that this was done in the event those on the list of 12 names were not available to serve at the time of appointment and it would also save the time to re-advertise for the unfilled positions.
“We did that in the National Youth Development Agency process. We did that in the Commission on Gender Equality.
“We did not see anything untoward when we passed that report on December 6. We were trying to manage time and be sensitive to financial implications that will cost Parliament.
“Maybe the legal team of Parliament will agree that was not correct, but we did it for a good purpose,” Majodina said.
Mkhaliphi said she agreed with Majodina, but questioned why individuals would decline to serve on the board when they had gone through the selection process.
She then wanted to know if Ramaphosa had rejected the list of nominees.
In her response, Mapisa-Nqakula said they had not received correspondence rejecting the list of names.
“For now I have no letter on my desk from the president which rejects the names of those proposed except that the president (is) seeking clarity on the vetting, which I subsequently responded to.
“The entire correspondence between myself and the president in relation to the SABC board is with the committee chairperson,” she said.
Ramaphosa’s parliamentary counsellor Gerhard Koornhof confirmed that clarity was sought on a number of issues that were flagged.
“I can assure members of the meeting, it is a matter of urgency to appoint the SABC board as soon as possible, but the president has to apply his mind correctly on all the issues before he makes his pronouncement.
“The clarity requested must come as soon as possible so that information can be provided to the president so that the SABC board can be appointed in haste,” Koornhof said.
Secretary to National Assembly Masibulele Xaso told the MPs that Mapisa-Nqakula desponded to all the matters in the two letters received on SABC.
“The correspondence was shared with the chair of the committee so that if there is any matter he wants to raise it can be done. The Speaker has responded to the matters raised with her,” Xaso said.
The SABC has been without a board since the term of the previous board came to an end on October 15.
Late last year, the public broadcaster approached the National Treasury to seek authorization to designate its group CEO Madoda Mxakwe as the accounting authority in the absence of the board.
Earlier this week, Scopa postponed its meeting with the SABC when it emerged that Deputy Minister Philemon Mapulane was informed of Mxakwe’s resignation during the meeting.