File picture: Karen Sandison/Independent Media
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has asked the new board of the SABC to get the public broadcaster back on track.

Zuma, who confirmed the appointment of the new interim board on Sunday, said the five non-executive directors faced a challenge of reviving the public broadcaster.

He appointed businesswoman Khanyisile Kweyama as the chairperson of the board and veteran editor Mathatha Tsedu as her deputy.

The other board members are Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Krish Naidoo and John Matisonn.

Zuma said South Africans pinned their hopes on this five-member team to turn the fortunes of the SABC around. “Millions of South Africans rely on the public broadcaster for news, information and entertainment. We wish Ms Kweyama and her team well as they begin the important task of leading and revitalising one of the most important national resources, the SABC,” said Zuma.

The appointment of the interim board comes at a time when the SABC is facing a serious cash crisis. It emerged two weeks ago that it could retrench some of the staff members because of the crisis.

However, the SABC said this would not happen now, but if the situation did not change, it could be forced to retrench workers. Unions were up in arms over the planned retrenchments.

The SABC has been burning cash over the past few years due to falling revenues. Last year, it lost R411 million. This followed a loss of R395m in the previous financial year and more than R500m the year before that.

The appointment of the interim board, for a period of six months, came after Parliament decided to dissolve the previous board and appointed the ad hoc committee to investigate problems at the SABC.

The ad hoc committee completed its report last month and the National Assembly endorsed it.

Former board chair Mbulaheni Maguvhe tried to block the work of the ad hoc committee, but he lost his bid in the Western Cape High Court and was ordered to pay legal costs from his own pocket.

After six months, the communications committee will appoint a 12-member permanent board for a term of five years.

The committee is expected to begin that process in the next few months, after the interim board settles into its new job.

Political Bureau