DA MP a white male babysitter - minister

By Babalo Ndenze Time of article published Jan 22, 2015

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Cape Town - The war of words between Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and DA MP Gavin Davis has taken a racial twist, with the minister labelling Davis a “white male babysitter” and an “irresponsible shop steward”.

She accused Davis of having a “clandestine mandate” and of violating his oath of office as an elected MP.

Davis, who has been highly critical of Muthambi’s handling of the SABC, said on Wednesday that he would not entertain or respond to the “unprecedented” racism accusations levelled against him, but stood by his accusations that the minister illegally interfered in the SABC board.

Davis made the accusation last week, after the minister wrote letters to certain board members asking them why they should not be suspended.

In her response to Davis, Muthambi said she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the SABC, as the sole shareholder.

On Wednesday, the two were back at each other’s throats, with Muthambi noting with “shock and horror” what she described as “undermining utterances” in the public domain made by Davis.

“Honourable Davis makes a litany of spurious accusations involving the SABC, which have never been tested in any objective and fair process. (I) will not grace those allegations with any dignity by repeating them, save to point out the following:

“Honourable Davis is violating his oath of office by disrespecting and disregarding parliamentary rules and processes that guide members of Parliament on how to ask questions from the executive as part of the duties of members of Parliament, in carrying out their duty of oversight,” Muthambi said in a strongly worded statement.

She said Davis also undermined the labour relations regime of the country which afforded any “aggrieved” employees proper legal recourse.

“Honourable Davis is strongly advised not to act like an irresponsible shop steward with a clandestine mandate.

“In addition, the minister will not allow a perception to be created that if you are a black woman minister, you need a white male babysitter.

“The minister is calling upon honourable Davis to act with restraint and with responsibility as required by the oath that he took, rather than dragging a public institution into disrepute,” Muthambi charged.

She added that the level of detail in the accusations, “however spurious and inaccurate”, provided prima facie evidence that Davis was behind the scenes, “illegally colluding with some of the individuals whose interests he purports to be protecting”.

“It is indeed questionable that honourable Davis’s level of activism coincides with the appointment, albeit on an acting capacity, of a black person at the helm of a public institution,” Muthambi said.

Davis said he stood by his accusation “for the simple reason that I have seen the letter that she sent to certain SABC board members”.

“In the letter, the minister threatens to recommend board members’ removal unless they give her good reasons for not doing so. One board member, Professor Bongani Khumalo, has already reportedly resigned as a result of the letter,” Davis pointed out.

Khumalo’s resignation came less than a month after former SABC board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala caved in to pressure and resigned.

Davis said he had asked the chairwoman of the communications portfolio committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, to call Muthambi to explain her “unlawful interference” in the board.

“The DA stands by its accusations against the minister for her interference in the board and against Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for his bullying of SABC staff members,” Davis added.

Political Bureau

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