Cape Town - Hours after Rachel Kalidass announced that she was quitting the SABC board over the appointment of a new group chief executive, the body’s remaining members came out firing at a press conference, accusing their former colleague of lying.
SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini told a press conference at the corporation’s Auckland Park headquarters that all board members were in agreement with a statement over Kalidass’ resignation.
Makhathini said during the first discussion over executive appointments, several board members expressed reservations over one candidate.
“Then and later, members on both sides of the argument asked that those with reservations do their research and provide a reasoned case against the candidate.
“All 11 met on October 31 to interview candidates for top positions. This was intended as an opportunity for all board members to question the candidates and raise their own concerns,” said Makhathini.
He said while others raised them, Kalidass remained quiet. When she raised them later, board members questioned why she had raised her concerns when the candidate was available to respond, which Makhathini said was a matter of fairness.
“All members were aware of some allegations, but required that as a matter of good governance and fairness, we check these thoroughly, in view of known cases where people have been falsely maligned,” said Makhathini.
Kalidass had failed to give a clear written position over her opposition to the candidate, while her colleagues on the board had done so according to Makhathini.
In a letter to Zuma, which was copied to the portfolio committee on communications, Kalidass asked to be released from her fiduciary duties with immediate effect over the appointment of a new CEO.
Although she did not name the candidate, the DA named him as former Land Bank CEO and Alan Mukoki.
Kalidass said she shared similar concerns with former Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo on the suitability of candidates in the appointment of the CEO and COO.
Kalidass revealed that the board wants to hire a candidate who has had allegations of fraud and corruption leveled against him in his previous job, and having a conflict of interest with service providers at SABC.
Kalidass also said "considering the severity of the matter in hindering the restoration of stability and integrity of the SABC", she undertook to notify the portfolio committee and had interacted with ANC MP Mondli Gungubele.
But, the SABC board has since set up a "cleaning up committee" to respond to the anticipated "bad publicity" after it learnt of her disclosure, a move that has been viewed as "breach of confidentiality".
DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said Kalidass’s resignation was a definitive sign that it is back to “business as usual” at the public broadcaster.
“The SABC is showing all the signs of going down that same road unless the decline is arrested immediately,” Van Damme said.
She insisted that the preferred applicant for CEO post was Mukoki, whom she said was “wholly unsuitable and inappropriate for the position”.
Mukoki reportedly featured in a Deloitte report, which found irregularities and implicated government officials in shady transactions, while at Land Bank.
Mukoki has declined in a statement on his pending appointment by the SABC.
“I cannot comment on the SABC as you know I am employed at Sacci(South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry). However, the general issues raised relating to the Land Bank have been in the public domain since 2007, and were dealt with and concluded in 2007 already,” said Mukoki.