SA Parliament. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA

Parliemnt - Deputy Minister of Communications Tandi Mahambehlala on Thursday called on MPs to institute a parliamentary inquiry into the fitness of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) board to hold office.

"I want to request that the portfolio committee, in the same way you did with the SABC, is the same way you should intervene on issues of the MDDA," Mahambehlala said, referring to the inquiry into the South African Broadcasting Corporation board to hold office.

Mahambehlala and her boss Ayanda Dlodlo were briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on communications. They said the performance at the MDDA was "dismal" as there was infighting between the current three-member board, including board chairwoman, Phelisa Nkomo, and acting chief executive, Donald Liphoko.

Dlodlo said the relationship between the CEO and Nkomo was "non-existent" and had led to the MDDA meeting only 33 percent of its targets in the first quarter of this financial year.

"Somewhere, somehow, something has to give," the minister said.

"The chairperson at this point does not have the confidence of the acting chief executive, neither does the chairperson have the confidence of staff."

While Dlodlo was more circumspect, Mahambehlala accused Nkomo of bullying Liphoko and other staff.

Referring to the board decision to fire Liphoko and lock him out of his office before he was rehired at the request of Dlodlo, Mahambehlala inferred he was being sidelined for cancelling irregular contracts entered into by the MDDA and service providers.

"Because Donald got to bottom of issues at the MDDA...then he was fired," said Mahambehlala.

"The chairpeson of MDDA has a track record of terrorising people in that entitiy."

MPs were not impressed, saying they wanted a report from Dlodlo, who sent officials into the MDDA on a "fact-finding mission", by next week.

The committee would meet the MDDA board, which, with only three members, was not quorate and could not make legal decisions, on October 6, asking them to answer to the allegations.

The MPs would only then consider what it would do to help clean up the entity.

On August 29, the shambolic state of affairs at the MDDA was laid bare in Parliament, when Nkomo, took Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications through a presentation of the progress made by the agency which was eventually rejected by the committee.

During that meeting Liphoko confirmed he was prevented by security from entering the building.

Liphoko said despite his reinstatement the relationship between him and the board had continued to deteriorate "because of the leadership style of the board chairperson".

MPs from across the political spectrum were left flabbergasted, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) calling for a parliamentary inquiry, while the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) accused the MDDA board and executive of schizophrenia, saying both sides should be held responsible for the mess and be fired.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly endorsed Ronald Lamola, Martina Della-Togna and Nombeko Mbava to be recommended as new MDDA board members despite opposition parties strongly objecting to Lamola, a former African National Congress Youth League member, being included in the list. President Jacob Zuma has yet to sign off on their appointment.