ANC MPs are planning to take control of the SABC board. They want parliament's communications portfolio committee to spearhead changes to the Broadcasting Act.

In so doing, they hope to guarantee that MPs have the power to tell the president to axe SABC board members.

If accepted by parliament, the proposal could result in suspended SABC group chief executive Dali Mpofu coming up trumps as part of an interim board at the helm of the public broadcaster.

In a meeting of the committee on Tuesday, ANC MPs submitted a memorandum proposing that the committee initiate the legislative change, as allowed in the seldom-used Rule 238.

Bills are usually initiated by the executive and then discussed in parliament.

A month ago, ANC MPs in the communications committee tried to get the national assembly to approve a motion of no confidence in the SABC board.

The motion was noted, but not adopted.

In any event, the motion had no real bite because as the law stands, MPs recommend candidates for the board and the president then has appointing powers. MPs can't fire board members.

If the ANC MPs have their way, the law will change in such a way that MPs will have the right to investigate board members who they believe aren't performing well.

They also want the national assembly to have the power to tell the president to fire certain board members or even dissolve the entire board.

Should the board be dissolved, they suggest, the SABC should be run in the interim by a board made up of its chief executive, and two other executives along with four appointees.

The public broadcaster is the latest forum for the wider battle between opposing groups in the ruling party.

The SABC has been rocked by a tit-for-tat suspensions involving Mpofu, news chief Snuki Zikalala and the board.

That management battle began after a memo complaining about Mpofu's performance was leaked to the media.

The board was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki late in 2007, shortly after he was ousted as ANC president.

Some ANC MPs claim Mbeki's preferred candidates were foisted on them.

ANC MPs known to be close to the Zuma leadership and supported by Cosatu, the SA Communist Party and the ANC Youth League, have since campaigned for the board to resign.

Earlier this year, communications committee MPs summoned the board members and hauled them over the coals.

Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri recently called for a review of the laws governing the SABC board, and suggested the portfolio committee hold public hearings. There has been little progress in this.

Prominent ANC MP Khotso Khumalo, meanwhile, has demanded a commission of inquiry into the functioning of the corporation. He is understood to be one of the driving forces behind plans to get the portfolio committee to initiate legislation, but couldn't be contacted for comment on Tuesday.

DA MP Dene Smuts on Tuesday called the ANC MPs' proposal part of a "naked political purge". She said it didn't get to the heart of the problem.

The problem with the SABC board was that it was appointed because of executive interference - to which the same ANC MPs acquiesced.

They were now repeating the same sin - acting under pressure from the new ANC leadership, Smuts said.

The new development at parliament comes on the heels of an appeal by a Johannesburg High Court judge for Mpofu and the SABC board to resolve their dispute over his suspension outside the courts.

Judge Mahomed Jajbhay postponed the case but called on the parties to consider outside mediation.

Mpofu successfully challenged a prior suspension on technical grounds.