Johannesburg - Embattled SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala will be asked to fall on her sword as the ANC’s top brass look to tighten the screws on the wayward public broadcaster.
A number of sources in the ruling party’s national executive committee and in Parliament confirmed that Tshabalala will be asked to resign, several weeks after allegations that she misrepresented her qualifications came to light. One NEC member said she had “lied under oath” if the allegations were true.
Tshabalala stated on her CV that she had a BCom degree from Unisa and held a diploma in labour relations, but the university said it had no record of these.
Independent Media learnt of the push for her resignation after the NEC meeting held in Pretoria at the weekend, where the matter came up.
ANC sources said Tshabalala was due to meet with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Sunday, but it is understood that the meeting has not yet happened. Mantashe would not be drawn on the details on Monday night.
The ANC’s move against Tshabalala is likely to send a discomforting signal to Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the public broadcaster’s powerful but controversial chief operating officer, who has managed to hold on to his R2.8 million-a-year job despite not having a valid matric certificate and holding a seemingly bogus qualification from a US seminary that is not recognised in this country.
Despite being fingered by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as having lied about his matric, Motsoeneng has survived all attempts to remove him from his post, seemingly because of his relationship with President Jacob Zuma. But the ANC was reportedly unhappy with Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment in July, and the Tshabalala revelations soon after this have proved to be the last straw.
Tshabalala was also expected to appear before a parliamentary inquiry on Thursday so she can answer to the allegations, but that has been postponed by the communications committee to October 14, to allow her more time to prepare. The committee has recommended that Tshabalala be suspended immediately pending the inquiry.
Committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa said on Monday night that the committee’s recommendation had already gone to Speaker Baleka Mbete, who will then forward the matter to Zuma.
On the ANC’s call for her to resign, Moloi-Moropa referred the matter to the ANC.
“The Speaker is going to write to the president and take our message of recommendation to the president. In the meantime, what we wanted was to sit for the hearing on Thursday, then other things emerged; for example, the charge sheet has just been finalised today (Monday).
“In our opinion, when we look at it, it won’t be right to send a charge sheet and also call a person for a sitting on Thursday. We decided as a committee to give a bit of time so she can prepare,” said Moloi-Moropa.
Should Tshabalala resign before the inquiry sits, Moloi-Moropa said “we will no longer have a reason to pursue” the inquiry.
“But we can’t bank on that because we don’t know if it will happen or not. As the committee, we are going forward with the process.”
One NEC member said Tshabalala had been active in many boards including Transnet, and had the right experience.
“The only problem here if she doesn’t have the correct qualifications and if it comes out she does not have, as we’ve been asking and haven’t been able to get an appropriate response, means she has lied under oath because once it has been in Parliament, it is under oath and also, she has put in an affidavit. That is an issue here. The only thing is if she did the qualifications, then we won’t have any issue,” said the member.
Last week, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi tried to protect Tshabalala from a grilling by MPs, shielding her from what she said were “malicious” questions about her qualifications.
But that didn’t prevent the portfolio committee on communications from finally adopting a recommendation that Tshabalala be suspended with immediate effect by the National Assembly, pending an inquiry. ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa could not be reached for comment on Monday night.