Media body is set to be probed

By MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA Time of article published Mar 6, 2018

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Durban - Parliament has set its sights on probing the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) through a parliamentary inquiry.

This comes after the communications portfolio committee heard of apparent irregularities in the entity following an oversight visit to its offices and community media in KwaZulu-Natal.

Humphrey Maxegwana, committee chairperson, said their visit was an eye-opener.

“We found that the government is pumping money into a bottomless pit so the money is going down the drain. There is nothing that is of benefit to most community radios we visited,” he said.

“We are to kick-start an investigation in MDDA of wrongdoing by some members of the board. That is to kick-start soon in the same (way) we did in SABC,” Maxegwana said.

A report of the committee said the staff at MDDA’s offices were concerned that the entity was without a chief executive officer for two years.

“This led to those appointed as acting CEOs to introducing different approaches in running the entity.”

The report also said the staff raised serious concerns about the MDDA’s inadequate policies.

“MDDA management prioritised policy amendments on cosmetic policies which were not assisting the institution.”

There were also concerns about the sustainability of community media projects.

“There are certain projects that were prioritised and approved without following due application processes. This was strange because there was a moratorium on the new applications of community media projects,” the report said.

The decision to investigate MDDA comes almost six months after Deputy Communications Minister Tandi Mahambehlala pleaded with the National Assembly to institute an inquiry into the affairs of the entity.

Mahambehlala had listed alleged irregularities she picked up from petitions and that an investigation had allegedly fingered the board in interfering with the MDDA executive.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the MDDA was “completely dysfunctional”.

“It is our view that the MDDA board must be disbanded and a new board constituted. That organisation is completely dysfunctional,” Ndlozi said.

He charged that the entity did not support community media as expected and that his party has no hope that newly-appointed Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane would turn things around at the entity and others.

“With the same drought she caused in the Water Department, she is going to cause more dysfunctionality in the Communications Department,” Ndlozi said.

“We have no hope and that is why we reject her appointment,” Ndlozi said.

Cope’s Willie Madisha said the situation in entities such as MDDA was worrisome.

“Cope notes the concerns expressed by staff of MDDA, which has not had a permanent CEO for two years,” Madisha said.

ANC’s Mziwamadoda Kalako said MDDA was a “problem child” falling under the Communications Department.

“The role and mandate of the MDDA to try and deal with the problem in monopoly ownership of the media in South Africa is going to be difficult,” he said, adding the Communications Department should play its role and be firm in dealing with problems engulfing its entities.

Daily News

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