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Durban - A breakdown in relations between Communications Minister Stella Abrahams-Ndabeni and the board is allegedly behind the four resignations that rocked the SABC this week.

Some members were uncomfortable with the minister’s interventions, which they saw as meddling in the board’s affairs, said insiders.

Deputy chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, Krish Naidoo, John Matisson and veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu resigned this week.

Khusela Diko, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, confirmed that the resignations were with immediate effect.

It also emerged yesterday that the Special Investigating Unit was probing them over an allegedly irregularly awarded R185million security tender.

“It was curious for our clients to hear that they were being investigated when they were responsible for ensuring that the president proclaimed the SIU investigation,” said their lawyer, Tebogo Malatji.

Their resignations bring to eight the number of vacancies on the board.

Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Rachel Kalidass and Victor Rambau quit months ago, while Nomvuyiso Batyi never took up the position.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications has invited nominations for the four old vacancies. The advertisement is now expected to be updated for eight vacancies.

When the board met the minister last week, she asked to be brought up to speed on the goings-on at the public broadcaster.

“The minister suggested retrenchments be postponed, and some members saw that as political interference,” said a source, adding that the misunderstanding had led to a breakdown in the relationship.

Some board members apparently did not take kindly to the minister’s view of the retrenchment process, describing it as political meddling.

Naidoo confirmed to The Mercury that he had resigned.

“I had come to the conclusion that some board members did not understand the difference between corporate independence, accountability and political interference,” he said.

He said the board of a state-owned enterprise was accountable to Parliament through the minister of communications.

“It cannot be viewed as interference when the minister asks to visit or offers advice,” he said.

Tsedu confirmed he had resigned, but said all queries should be directed to the Presidency for comment.

The ANC yesterday said it was concerned at “the continuing instability” at the SABC and called on the government to ensure a return to normality.

“The board must be given space to execute its mandate independently and without fear, favour or prejudice, in the best interests of the SABC,” said spokesperson Pule Mabe.

The EFF said the ANC and the government had set the board up for failure.

“The EFF believes many in the ANC want the SABC to collapse, to institute a new board they can control for the 2019 elections,” said spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

Mabe dismissed this, saying any insinuation that the ANC was trying to sabotage the board was “a desperate bid to score cheap political points”.

The DA said the resignations were “highly unfortunate” as it would have been desirable for all board members to work towards fixing the crisis.

The Mercury