Pretoria - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has come under heavy fire from the ruling party over her “unmandated” comments on criticism by the ANC’s national general council (NGC) of her handling of the digital migration project and instability at the SABC.
The party has slammed Muthambi for effectively calling ANC communications subcommittee chairman Jackson Mthembu a liar.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Muthambi disputed Mthembu’s comments that the ANC was unhappy about the country missing the digital migration deadline, the encryption component of the process and instability at the public broadcaster, claiming these were never discussed at the NGC.
But the ANC has hit back hard at Muthambi in a stinging and rare public rebuttal of a cabinet minister.
It said her comments had inaccuracies, and that she was not mandated to communicate decisions and discussions of its mid-term assessment meeting.
“It is unfortunate that in her statement there are a number of inaccuracies relating to matters discussed by the communications commission and subsequently adopted by the NGC.
“We want to place on record that the issues of digital migration and the SABC were discussed extensively by the commission, which resulted in the decisions that were taken,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement on Tuesday night.
Kodwa said the party, having noted the “unfortunate failure by South Africa to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting and the terrible instability at the SABC”, would schedule an urgent meeting between the ministers of post and telecommunications and communication, and the national executive committee (NEC) subcommittee for communication.
“We want to assert that the responsibility to communicate the ANC NEC conference, the NGC and other decisions reside with the secretary-general of the ANC, spokesperson of the ANC and chairpersons of ANC NEC subcommittees.
“It is unfortunate that Minister Muthambi, despite this reality, she opted again to speak on ANC decisions unmandated and in the process she unfortunately accused the chairperson of the subcommittee of being a liar.”
Independent Media reported at the weekend how the ANC was losing patience with Muthambi over what Mthembu called “the flip-flopping” on digital migration and the controversial deal between the SABC and MultiChoice, which is seen as giving MultiChoice a monopoly in the pay-Tv space.
The deal, which has seen the SABC make all its archives exclusively available to MultiChoice, has been referred to the Competition Commission by the media group Caxton.
Mthembu said there had been no transparency around the deal, and the ANC would demand that Muthambi’s department account to the ruling party.