By Sibusiso Ngalwa, Moshoeshoe Monare and Chiara Carter

Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri wants a review of the laws governing the SABC board, while an ANC MP has demanded a commission of inquiry into the functioning of the corporation.

The ANC likened the public broadcaster to the Boswell Wilkie and Moscow circuses.

The broadcaster was the centre of attention during Matsepe-Casaburri's budget vote debate on Tuesday.

After the debate, Matsepe-Casaburri told a media briefing that the proposed review would look not only at the appointment of the board, but also at who should have the power to fire board members and under what circumstances.

It would also consider whether, as is now the case, the president should choose the SABC board's chairman; the nature of politicians' involvement in the processes; and whether the SABC charter was still relevant.

The review would involve wide consultation, she said.

During the budget debate, Matsepe-Casaburri said both the executive and parliament would have to review the legislation and appointing processes.

"The power given to the appointing authority, the processes of appointing and removing of the board members, the SABC charter and the role of the executive and parliament clearly need reviewing, without sacrificing the broadcaster's independence and clarifying the nature, content and form of that independence," she said.

The ANC has consistently queried the appointment of the current board, with some claiming that it was imposed on them by a faction supporting President Thabo Mbeki.

ANC MP Khotso Khumalo said the crisis in the SABC warranted a commission of inquiry and that the board had to go.

"You don't have to wait for three years to wait for the board to make mistakes because they have been appointed by us or the president. It doesn't work like that. If the board doesn't function well, two months, three months, it must go. It must change.

"The honeymoon is over, this is business unusual," he said.

He said the SABC crisis was more comical than the real circus.

"When I was young we used to attend the Boswell Wilkie circus, after a week they will be gone. And I was very fortunate that I also managed to attend the Moscow circus in Europe, but after four, five weeks they are gone. But I can tell you, the circus at the SABC is there for too long. It must not be allowed to go on," Khumalo said.

However, DA MP Dene Smuts said there was a "political purge launched against this board".

She said: "Arbitrary removal (of the board) is not possible under administrative justice, it is not possible under our constitution."

The debate came hardly a day after the SABC board failed in its second attempt to suspend group chief executive Dali Mpofu.

The Johannesburg high court ruled that Mpofu's suspension was unprocedural.

Khumalo also said there had to be more channels in South Africa to set a diverse news agenda.

"We need to find a middle road in which perhaps the SABC doesn't become too much of a propaganda (tool) and (we) can't have e.tv being too critical (of) the government," he said.

The Freedom of Expression Institute welcomed a recent statement made by members of the SABC group executive committee calling for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the board. It also agreed with the committee's call for board members to resign.