National Assembly - 01 July 2009

                       WEDNESDAY, 1 JULY 2009


The House met at 12:04.

The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.



The Speaker announced that the vacancies which occurred owing to the resignation from the National Assembly of Messrs C Nqakula, M B M Mphahlwa and O E Monareng had been filled by the nominations of Ms T B Sunduza, Messrs Z L Madasa and J B Sibanyoni with effect from 11, 13 and 22 June 2009 respectively.

                                OATH The members made and subscribed the oath in the Speaker’s office on 26 June 2009.


Mr I VADI: Mr Speaker, today is a sad day for our country. I cannot be rejoicing at the fact that I’m called upon to introduce a report which recommends the dissolution of the South African Broadcasting Corporation Board, when only 20 months ago I had recommended – on behalf of the former Portfolio Committee on Communications – its appointment in this House.

Something went terribly wrong in the intervening period. [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Order! Order! Allow the speaker to be heard.

Mr I VADI: There can be no doubt that the SABC is experiencing its worst crisis ever since 1994. Quintessentially, the problem is a meltdown in corporate governance. For this, we must all take a collective responsibility. [Interjections.] This is not a time for finger-pointing – be it against the Communications Ministry and department, the SABC Board and the executive management of the corporation or the committee itself. What we should be focusing on are the lessons to be learnt from this dreadful debacle and on charting a way forward.

On 17 June 2009 the committee took an extraordinary step of instituting an inquiry into the SABC Board in terms of section 15(a) (1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act. It also relied on the Rules of Parliament. Our inquiry focused on the board as a collective entity, rather than on any particular member of the board.

The inquiry was necessitated by the wide range of media reports relating to the resignation of the majority of board members, including the chairperson and the deputy chairperson; the cash flow crisis of the SABC; the possibility of strike action by SABC employees; the protest by independent producers relating to the non-payment of fees to them; the various legal battles between the former group chief executive officer and the board; and the perceived breakdown in effective corporate governance at the corporation.

The committee’s inquiry focused on a number of issues. We raised questions about the status of the board’s membership and whether or not the board was functional and able to exercise its fiduciary responsibilities. We also examined the financial and funding crisis of the SABC and the ability or otherwise of the executive management to effectively manage its operations. We explored the tensions among board members themselves and between the board and the executive management.

At the end of the inquiry, the only consolation and solace the committee shares is that it is able to present a consensus report to the House. All the political parties that participated in the inquiry commonly agreed on the findings. We can confirm today that the SABC is, indeed, in a state of paralysis. This is evident from its current financial position. The SABC reported a financial loss of R839 million for the last financial year as a result of declining revenue and unrestrained expenditure over this period. [Interjections.] This explains its current cash-flow crisis.

There is also a breakdown in effective corporate governance. There is a lack of common purpose and cohesion among members of the board and the executive management. This has impaired their ability to carry out their statutory fiduciary responsibilities. The tensions between some members of the executive management and some members of the board had damaged their relationship to the overall detriment of the SABC.

Currently, there remains confusion about the actual status of board membership owing to the resignations not being properly addressed by members to the President in terms of section 15(2) of the Act. But we are quite certain that even if board members are able to constitute a quorum, the board is in effect dysfunctional. In a matter of days it will not be able to constitute a quorum as the resignations will come into force.

There is evidence of serious lapses in sound operational management of the SABC by the executive management. We believe that this warrants urgent attention by the government and the shareholder. Finally, it is our view that the board does not enjoy a healthy relationship with the shareholder that is necessary for timeous reporting and proper accountability.

The upshot of this distressing state of affairs is that board members themselves do not believe that they have the will and tenacity to continue fulfilling their duties. They also believe that they do not enjoy the confidence of political office bearers. At the end of the inquiry, they, in fact, called upon the House to dissolve them so that a fresh start could be made.

The committee therefore concluded unanimously that there was no possibility of the current board being collectively able and legally competent to fulfil its statutory duties. We therefore recommend that the House adopt a resolution recommending to the President the dissolution of the entire board, and that an interim board be nominated as soon as possible to manage the affairs of the corporation for a period of six months.

Where do we go from here? Firstly, if our recommendation is supported today, we must ensure that the interim board is appointed quickly. Secondly, at its meeting yesterday the committee requested the office of the Auditor-General to investigate allegations relating to the manipulation of tenders, conflicts of interest, and other financial irregularities at the SABC. Thirdly, it is essential that a clear hierarchy of authority is established within the governance structures of the SABC and that the rules of business and decision-making are clearly understood by all. And, lastly, we trust that the future interim board and the shareholder will act speedily to fill the vacant posts at the senior executive management level of the corporation.

Finally, the committee expresses its sincere gratitude to board members, the executive management, and the officials from the Department of Communications for their participation in this inquiry. It also wishes to thank other stakeholders in civil society for the written submissions forwarded to the committee.

On my own behalf I wish to thank each and every member of the board for the service that was rendered under wearisome circumstances to the corporation. Each one of you is a talented and highly skilled South African. In my eyes you remain true patriots. Given another chance and under different conditions, I have little doubt that you will continue to make a profound contribution to our democracy. I commend the Report to the House. Thank you. [Applause.]

Mr N J VAN DEN BERG: Mnr die Speaker, Adjunkpresident, Ministers en agb lede van die Parlement … [Mr Speaker, Deputy President, Ministers and hon Members of Parliament …] … today is a sad day in our democracy. It is a sound example that the ANC cannot govern this country. [Applause.]

Dit is die DA se standpunt van meet af aan dat die vakatures op die raad gevul moes word. Dit kon nie verwesenlik word nie, want die raad het gedisintegreer. Net een lid het oorgebly, naamlik prof Alison Gillwald. Daarop kan u vra: Sê wie? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[From the outset, the DA is of the opinion that the vacancies on the board should have been filled. This could not be realised, since the board disintegrated. Only one member remained, namely Prof Alison Gillwald. In reaction to this, one could ask: Says who?]

At the last meeting with the SABC board one of the members asked that the portfolio committee should dissolve the board.

Die DA stel dit duidelik dat die ANC-beheerde Portefeuljekomitee oor Kommunikasie doelbewus water getrap het om die tyd te laat verbyglip. [The DA wants to state clearly that the ANC-controlled Portfolio Committee on Communications intentionally engaged in delaying strategies to waste time.]

We all know that the financial and managerial fiasco did not start yesterday. If the political will existed within the ANC, they could have done a lot more months ago. There was no political will because it was pre- Polokwane. [Interjections.] After Polokwane it was easier for the ANC, spearheaded by the hon Mr Ismail Vadi, to get rid of the SABC board.

Ek moet dit duidelik aan die Huis stel, en ek stel dit namens die DA, dat mnr Vadi sy rol as voorsitter misbruik het, of so het dit geblyk. Hy het onnodig op lede van die raad gepik. Ek kan glo dat hulle tereg ongelukkig voel, veral me Qunta. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[On behalf of the DA, I have to clearly state to the House that Mr Vadi abused his position as chairperson, or this appeared to be the case. He picked on members of the board without good reason. I believe they have the right to feel unhappy, especially Ms Qunta.]

The ANC’s main objective was to keep their hands clean, a bunch of beautiful little innocent angels. They actually horizontalised the perpendicularity of respected people chosen to be board members. [Laughter.] Parliament wants to know: Did they jump, or were they pushed? And this is a question I want answered. Or maybe it wasn’t in the ANC’s interest that so many board members decided they could not go any further with an ANC-driven Portfolio Committee on Communications.

The dissolving of the board won’t solve the SABC’s problems. The board must accept collective responsibility for the state of chaos in the national broadcaster. The executive of the SABC is also guilty. They are masters at not making decisions. I know this because I was there for 27 years. [Interjections.] [Applause.] I knew my predecessor, the hon Dene Smuts, worked very hard to solve these problems. But what can you expect from the power-hungry ANC and its obsession to control and manipulate? [Interjections.]

Now, the road forward: If the ANC is really there for the people, it will show … [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Hon members, allow the speaker to be heard.

Mr N J VAN DEN BERG: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Now, the road forward: If the ANC is really there for the people, this would be seen in the new SABC board and also in the interim board. If it is an ANC-dominated board - His Master’s Voice - it will be the beginning of the end of media freedom and objective news coverage. [Interjections.] And I am telling this House today that we will see this in the upcoming municipal elections in 2011. We will see whether the ANC meant what it said. If we appoint a politically expedient board, the underlying structural problems in the SABC will prevail. [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Is that a point of order?

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Ms T V Tobias): No, I just want to know …

The SPEAKER: Is that a point of order?

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Ms T V Tobias): It is a question, Speaker.

The SPEAKER: Are you ready to take a question?

Mr N J VAN DEN BERG: Mr Speaker, I will first listen to the question, and then I will decide if I will answer it. [Laughter.]

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Ms T V Tobias): Can I pose the question then?

The SPEAKER: Go ahead.

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Ms T V Tobias): The question is: After 27 years of experience in a totalitarian state, can a person know what democracy is?

Mr N J VAN DEN BERG: I actually know what democracy is because I am part of the DA. They are the democrats in this country, not the ANC. [Applause.] If we appoint a politically expedient board, the underlying structural problems in the SABC … The SPEAKER: Hon member, your time has expired. [Laughter.] [Applause.]

Mr N J VAN DEN BERG: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr M S SHILOWA: Hon Speaker, hon members, today the chickens have come home to roost. [Applause.] What we have always suspected has now come to pass. Executive members who plunged the SABC into financial disaster remain in their jobs, while the board - the members of whom tried to correct the situation together with workers at the SABC - is being dissolved.

We now know that the SABC bought T-shirts for the ANC; that some members of management did not declare their vested interests in procurement; that management work was outsourced to consultants to the extent that management wanted to consult to attend board meetings; that management would interfere in tender adjudication and split tenders so as to avoid subjecting tenders to board approval; that management created expectations with preferred bidders; and that management suggested to the board to reach an out-of- court settlement with an unsuccessful bidder.

Let me say something. It is important to understand that we want today to call on the ANC to return the money they received as benefit for the printed ANC T-shirts. [Applause.] If you are democrats, you will show it today. If you are corrupt, you will not return the money. [Interjections.] You cannot sit with money from the public purse. [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Order! Hon members, order!

Mr M S SHILOWA: The executive member involved must be charged, prosecuted and, if found guilty, fired from the SABC board. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

It is very important. We are here to protect the public purse. Anyone who wants to protect the public purse can join Cope as we stand in defence of democracy. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

I stand here to say: If Cope had received any money from the SABC, we would be standing here today to say that we were going to return that money. We would not sit here smugly enjoying the fruits of corruption and theft from our own people. [Interjections.]

The final point we want to make is that we will leave no stone unturned until the money is returned and the executives who are corrupt have been prosecuted. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr K M ZONDI: Mr Speaker, the current problems besetting the SABC call for urgent interventions aimed at beginning the process to save the SABC as an important public institution.

We take the view that the SABC, as a public broadcaster, is an important national asset which must be saved from destruction at all costs. The spate of resignations of board members has led to the current paralysis, which hampers the ability of the SABC to operate efficiently in fulfilment of its mandate as a public broadcaster.

Quite clearly, we cannot, in the national interest, allow the present paralysis to strangle the SABC to death. It is for this reason that we call upon this National Assembly to dissolve what is left of the board, so as to allow for a process for the nomination of an interim board to take place to run the affairs of the SABC for six months while a new board is being selected. [Applause.]

Removing the board will not, however, solve all the problems at the SABC. It is imperative that we get to the root causes of the problems which have led to this debacle.

That is why we in the IFP are calling for a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate all the factors, including the funding model, which led to this paralysis, and to make recommendations which will give this nation a true public broadcaster.

Such an inquiry will help all the people concerned - that is those who served on the board and the executive management - have their names cleared or otherwise of all sorts of unsavoury accusations and allegations and, most importantly, it will help determine whether there has been any political interference and manipulation. I thank you, Mr Speaker. [Applause.]

Ms P DE LILLE: Mr Speaker, for the sake of the workers at the SABC and our country in general, the ID supports the dissolution of the SABC board. [Applause.] But we must be honest and we must admit that the board and the executive management must take collective responsibility for the mess at the SABC.

We also welcome the investigation by the Auditor-General, but we would like to see a forensic audit take place so that those who have had their finger in the till, and those who have eaten and stolen our money, can be brought to book and punished. [Interjections.]

Also, the interim board must not be made up of political appointees, because the mess at the SABC today is exactly because of political interference. [Interjections.]

Finally, no bonuses must be paid to the current executive management, because we have no more money to waste on the SABC. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr B H HOLOMISA: Mr Speaker, hon Deputy President and hon members, we urge that any intended audit inquiry have broad terms of reference.

When we talk about people failing to discharge their duties, such an approach must also include those executive members who served on the outgoing board as well as senior management. The question is whether a proper inquiry can happen whilst the suspected culprits continue to work at the SABC.

We all know that the climate was never conducive for this board to resolve this crisis and that most of its members have resigned, but their replacements will solve nothing as long as the architects of the mess remain behind.

In conclusion, we call upon the House to support the decision of the committee to investigate further the alleged looting and pillaging of SABC resources.

In the meantime, the committee and the interim board must immediately establish a task team to conduct a thorough skills and performance audit. This looting spree must come to an end. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]

Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, in Augustus verlede jaar is daar ’n wysiging op die wet aangebring en toe het die leier van die VF Plus, dr Pieter Mulder, die volgende gesê:

In die praktyk beteken dit dat die regerende party ’n permanente swaard oor die koppe van die SABC-raadslede gaan hou so dat hulle na die parte se pype sal dans …

… anders word hulle almal afgedank.

Dis presies wat ons hier in die praktyk beleef. U, die ANC, het mos hierdie raad aangestel. U kan nie hier soos ’n Pontius Pilatus maak asof u onskuldig is en u handjies kom was nie. U is eintlik niks anders as ’n Judas nie, want omdat hierdie lede u nie meer begunstig nie, raak u van hulle ontslae. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)

[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Hon Speaker, in August last year an amendment was made to the Act and subsequently the leader of the FF Plus, Dr Pieter Mulder, said the following:

In practice, this implies that the ruling party will hold a permanent sword over the heads of the SABC board members so that they will have to toe the party line …

… otherwise they will all be dismissed.

This is exactly what we are experiencing in practice. You, the ANC, in fact appointed this board. You cannot pretend to be innocent now and wash your hands like Pontius Pilate. You are actually nothing but a Judas, because you are getting rid of these members, since they do not favour you anymore.]

The ANC is co-responsible for the mess at the SABC. [Interjections.] Take up your responsibility! This time you cannot blame it on apartheid; blame it on yourself. I thank you. [Applause.]

Ms M N MAGAZI: Hon Speaker, Members of Parliament, good afternoon. I just want to correct Mr Burger. [Interjections.]

An HON MEMBER: You’ve got the wrong speaker.

Ms M N MAGAZI: Whatever! The SABC board was appointed after Polokwane - that is 2007. So, you must get your date right about when the SABC board was appointed. [Interjections.]

Tata Nelson Mandela said the following in 1995, and I quote:

The launch into African skies of satellites that can fill the airwaves with television and radio from all over the world has already made the concept of a global village a reality. But the question is: How is this village organised?

The spectre of a privileged few setting the cultural agenda for the world’s majority is very real. If we allow this to happen, then the potential of new technologies to build bridges will have been wasted.

The Portfolio Committee on Communications is of the view that both television and radio are fascinating mediums to experience in that they open the world to all. They are committed to educating all citizens. Our portfolio committee’s deliberation over the past two weeks has been a resounding demonstration of this fact.

In view of the acrimonious relations between the shareholder, the SABC’s executive management and the SABC board and, moreover, the lack of clarity in relation to the status of membership of the board, the functionality of the board, the exercise of fiduciary responsibilities by the board, the financial and funding crisis of the SABC board, the Deloitte report on the breakdown in corporate governance at the SABC, the failure on the part of the executive management to effectively manage the finances and the operations of the SABC board, the Portfolio Committee on Communications was prompted to conduct an inquiry in terms of the Rules of the National Assembly.

In addition, the Broadcasting Act of 1999, which was amended in 2009, is explicit that the National Assembly may, after due inquiry and by the adoption of a resolution, recommend the dissolution of the board if it fails in any or all of the following: discharging its fiduciary duties, adhering to the Charter, and carrying out its duties as contemplated in section 13. The fiduciary duties of the board are clearly listed in chapter 4 of the Broadcasting Act of 1999.

The inquiry produced the following conclusions. The SABC is in a state of crisis, both financially and in terms of the breakdown in corporate governance. There is a lack of common purpose among members of the board and the executive management, thereby impairing their ability to carry out their statutory fiduciary duties. The tension between some members of the executive management and some members of the board had contributed to a virtual breakdown in their relationships to the overall detriment of the SABC. The SABC reported a financial loss of R839 million for the 2008-09 financial year as a result of declining revenue and unrestrained overexpenditure, resulting in the current severe cash-flow crisis. There is confusion about the actual status of the board since many resignations have been received. And, although the board might still technically have been able to constitute a quorum, it was ineffective and dysfunctional.

The portfolio committee is also mindful of the fact that there are allegations of violation of the sound operational management of the SABC by the executive management, which could warrant further investigation by the Auditor-General’s office and by the shareholder.

The portfolio committee notes the appeal made by some board members at the end of the inquiry to dissolve the board. The appeal by board members reduces the potential of the current board to collectively and legally execute its statutory duties.

The Portfolio Committee on Communications appeals to the National Assembly to adopt its recommendation, which is to dissolve the SABC Board as envisaged in section 15A(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr S N SWART: Speaker, the ACDP supports the resolution in the interests of the future of the SABC. The dissolution of the board was inevitable after it had become dysfunctional owing to political interference, internal conflict and conflict with management, resulting in the resignation of all but one of the board members. It was clearly unable to fulfil its statutory duties.

Whilst management accused the board of not dealing with problems, board members in turn accused management of working with ANC MPs on the committee to get rid of them. The board and management must therefore take collective responsibility.

The ANC must also take blame, as it continually sought to get rid of the board members of its pro-Mbeki members, resulting in this crisis. The board could never succeed under such circumstances.

The ACDP fully supports the committee’s decision to refer the issues of governance and financial mismanagement to the Auditor-General for investigation. In our view, it is in the national interest that the public broadcaster is placed on a sound financial and management footing, and that political interference is stopped. Thank you. [Applause.]

Ms M N MATLADI: Hon Speaker, the SABC is an entity to deliver services to all South Africans. It is not an organ to serve the interests of one party while frustrating the rest.

The SABC board should be responsible enough not to run away when things are not going well. Their resignations from the board and the manner in which they have been running the entity, raise questions about their eligibility for the board. Were they the relevant persons to serve? “’n Man moet sy man kan staan.” [A person should have the courage of their convictions.]

The UCDP is in support of the SABC board being dissolved and a new board being appointed immediately. It moves further that the financial management unit of the SABC be reviewed. The budget that has been transferred to the SABC should be run by Treasury or judicial management until the entity can stand on its own feet and conduct its affairs effectively and efficiently. The UCDP also supports the undertaking of a forensic investigation into the SABC.

Finally, we would like to say that it is the responsibility of the Department of Communications to monitor the funds they transfer to entities. It is not enough for the Minister to say, “We are not the SABC; let them come and answer for themselves.” I thank you. [Time expired.]

Mr R B BHOOLA: Mr Speaker, the MF strongly supports the investigation into the mismanagement. The SABC indeed requires restructuring: it must be modernised, it must have a good approach, it must be apolitical, it must be autonomous and independent, and the selection of the board must be done by an impartial committee.

The MF strongly believes that no politician should have the final say in determining the board. Let us have an arrangement in which the board is completely impartial, autonomous and independent. We cannot allow a board that is dysfunctional to continue a disservice to the people. The MF supports the dissolution of the board and the appointment of an interim board.

Let us allow a process of healing, so that an effective and efficient management can be put in place. [Applause.]

Ms L D MAZIBUKO: Mr Speaker, the DA didn’t want to go down the route of dissolving the SABC board, because we felt that this would do nothing to resolve the crisis at the public broadcaster. Rather, it would simply satisfy the blood lust of the new ANC ruling elite, which is determined to put its stamp on an institution that is supposed to be independent.

Had we had it our way, each of the board members who has resigned would have served out his or her respective three-month notice periods; the President would have appointed a chairperson and a deputy chair from within their ranks to restore the quorum; and we, in the National Assembly, would have gone about the business of interviewing and short-listing candidates to fill the existing vacancies as per our mandate. But this was not to be.

The ANC in the previous committee didn’t rush through the Broadcast Amendment Act in March this year in order to then sit on it. They had one objective, and one objective only: dissolve the board or fire its members, and then make way for the installation of a more palatable board; one which is sympathetic and perhaps more willing to dance to the tune of the new masters of Luthuli House. [Applause.]

The DA, together with Cope, expressed throughout this entire process its concerns about the extent to which this constituted due process, as envisioned by the clause in the amending Act.

Board members who had less than 24 hours’ notice were summoned to Parliament to give evidence in an inquiry whose purpose was to establish whether or not they could do their work, but which instead had all the hallmarks of a kangaroo court.

As with the previous parliamentary committee, a scheduled report-back by executive board members on the state of the broadcaster’s financials, in a time of crisis, was pushed back in order to accommodate a vicious assault by ANC MPs on the board. Why bother engaging in oversight over the public broadcaster in this crisis when there are political purges to be engaged in?

No wonder board members, who, we mustn’t forget, are distinguished members of society and hold professional posts elsewhere, had had enough. Who can blame them after having been harassed by Parliament for their entire 18 months in office, after facing insurrection from the executive management that they were responsible for guiding, and after probably enduring extraordinary pressure to resign? Who can blame them for giving up?

With only one member left on the entire board, the DA has little choice but to assent to this dissolution since we will need to constitute the board either way.

Yesterday this committee was presented with SABC financial statements, which painted such a bleak picture of this organisation, an organisation which is deeply in chaos. It became very glaringly obvious that the problems that the broadcaster is facing cannot be attributed to the board. This is the fig leaf which the ANC has used to justify this entire process. But, in fact, they go to massive procurement and spending irregularities at executive management level.

In addition, we were presented with testimony from the remaining board members which alleged that political interference, endemic corruption in the management of the SABC and general mistrust between the board and the executive are what contributed to the rot at the public broadcaster.

We therefore endorse the recommendation by the committee that the Auditor- General’s Office must conduct a full investigation into the functioning of the SABC to identify the weaknesses at the broadcaster and resolve the allegations that have been made.

The DA will participate fully in the process of appointing an interim board when we leave the House today. We will do so with a view to ensuring that it comprises members with the necessary industry and financial expertise to guide the broadcaster out of its present woes and, crucially, to champion the independence of the SABC, instead of kowtowing to the ruling ANC elite. [Time expired.] [Applause.]

Mr S E KHOLWANE: I’m waiting for absolute silence in the House. [Interjections.]

Mr Speaker, Deputy President of the Republic, executive members and Members of Parliament and our guests, around August 2008 I was called for an interview at the SABC. The question that was asked was: What was our intention as a committee of making amendments to the Broadcasting Act?

I responded honestly to that question. I said that Parliament did not make laws only for them not to bite. We are not going to hesitate after the amendments have been passed into law. If the board falters, we will act. We are not going to hesitate. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

I indicated that we could not bury our heads in the sand and pretend that all was well at Auckland Park. We should act, and indeed we should have acted earlier.

What I fail to understand, on the part of other quarters here in the House, is the notion that seeks to blame other organisations in the public when they voice their opinions or their views about the SABC - the board that is appointed by this Parliament, public representatives of the people of the Republic. One of the mandates which they must carry out is to ensure that they run this board efficiently in the interests of the public.

Indeed, our constituencies, which have put us in Parliament, have the right to raise issues when they see that the board cannot perform as is expected. [Interjections.] That will not preclude the SA Communist Party from echoing its views … that does not exclude the Young Communist League from echoing its views, or any organisation in the public space. [Interjections.]

Let me deal with the issues. Mr Ashwin Trikamjee, one of the esteemed members of the board, in his apology for not attending the inquiry on 23 June 2009, attached a memoir that says, amongst other things:

The suspension and subsequent dismissal of the CEO added pressure as it resulted in a stand-off with management. This was followed by the resignations of Mr Vundla, Ms Qunta and Ms Lagardien. These significant instances led to the board having problems with a quorum. The present situation is that nine board members have resigned.

Effectively the board does not make a quorum.

Resigned members still have a fiduciary duty to serve on the board, but the fact of the matter is that they were no longer attending the meetings of the board, and that rendered the board nonfunctional. That is what he said.

Let us deal with facts. Mr Bheki Khumalo, in his letter to the chairperson and other board members on the resignation of some of the board members, said:

The resignation of board members has to do undoubtedly with their lack of confidence in the leadership of the chairperson.

Christine was on Radio 2000 news last week … attacking the poor leadership of the chairperson of the board and citing it as the reason that prompted her to resign …

Not Polokwane; not interference from the ANC. [Interjections.]

He continued to say:

In effect, therefore, out of the 11 other nonexecutive board members, four persons …

The SPEAKER: There is a point of order. Take your seat, hon member.

Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Speaker, the point of order is that this hon member promised at the start that he would not speak, unless there was silence. There is no silence, so why is he speaking? [Laughter.]

The SPEAKER: Continue, hon member.


… Christine Qunta, Vundla, Lagardien and myself, Bheki Khumalo, have all independently expressed a lack of confidence in the leadership of the chairperson.

Not the ANC; not Polokwane.

Towards the conclusion of his letter he said that this part of the crisis was the result of the deliberate effort of the board of focusing on removing the group CEO rather than on what they were supposed to do. This is one of the board members raising those issues, not the ANC, not Polokwane, no one else. This is the board members themselves raising this particular matter. [Interjections.]

When we heard the inquiry we were honest, as people had made their submissions to the committee in terms of allegations against the executive managers of the SABC. Cope was there – in the committee. They didn’t raise any issue of T-shirts in the committee where they were required to raise issues against the executive.

Now, I think I know why the matter is surfacing today. The matter is surfacing only because they don’t have other issues to make headlines of. Shame! [Interjections.] [Applause.] This is the only matter with which they can capture headlines. So, I hope that the media will pick that up - that they will be brought into the mainstream media - because lately they have fallen off the media bandwagon. [Interjections.]

We should all agree that it’s now or never.

The SPEAKER: There is a point of order. Take your seat, hon member.

An HON MEMBER: Speaker, I actually wanted to ask the member if he would take a question.

The SPEAKER: Will you take a question?

Mr S E KHOLWANE: If I have time at the end, Mr Speaker. For now, can I proceed?

The SPEAKER: The hon member won’t take the question. Continue, hon member.

Mr S E KHOLWANE: We should all agree that it’s now or never. It is now the time to act and to act decisively in serving the interests of the millions of citizens of this country. However, whatever action we take, we should remember not to embarrass or humiliate any person that served on the SABC board or as an executive manager.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee has indicated that we are referring all allegations to the Auditor-General for further investigation. Could we be patient enough to allow that process to unfold, so that as we engage on issues, we engage on the basis of facts, not assumptions?

You see, part of the problem at the SABC is collective responsibility. There is a song that goes: “Two hearts beat as one. When men have been in battle together they are bonded like the flower and the soil and the sun, and like the moon catches the light.”

So, we can’t apportion blame to one party. [Interjections.] I was glad when the DA said that we were angels as the ANC. We appreciate that. An issue we need to have responded to - maybe the hon member Shilowa can respond – is whether a senior executive manager of the SABC took four months’ leave to do Cope work during the elections. [Interjections.] [Applause.] We’d be glad if that could be responded to at some particular time.

The SPEAKER: There is a point of order.

Mr M S SHILOWA: Hon Speaker, in terms of the Rules I can’t respond sitting here, so he may have to state it. [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Continue, hon member.

Mr S E KHOLWANE: It was based on the issues raised above - that the committee was …

The SPEAKER: Hon member, your time has expired. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, I move without notice:

That the House –

(1) adopts the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on the inquiry into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Board and that the House in so doing recommends, to the appointing authority, the dissolution of the Board as envisaged in section 15A(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act (Act No 4 of 1999), as amended by the Broadcasting Amendment Act (Act No 4 of 2009); and

(2) upon the dissolution of the Board, instructs the Portfolio Committee on Communications to proceed immediately with the process of recommending –

    (i)      five persons for appointment to an interim Board as
          contemplated in section 15A(3)(a) of the Act; and

    (ii)     one of the members of the interim Board as the chairperson
          and another member as the deputy chairperson as contemplated
          in section 15A(4) of the Act.


The SPEAKER: Are there any objections?

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, this is not necessarily an objection, but I do rise on a point of order.

The SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

Mr M J ELLIS: The DA members on the committee have clearly seen the report, and have agreed to it, but as far as I am aware, sir, this has not been printed in the ATC or anywhere else, and has not been circularised. I am asking you, sir, how members of this House can be expected to vote on something that they have not seen? Because normally, under customary practice, we should have had a copy of this report in our pigeon holes, at least.

The SPEAKER: It is on p 231 of the ATC of 26 June.

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, 26 June? As far as I am aware, the committee only finalised the report yesterday. So I am not quite sure which report we are referring to here. The SPEAKER: The report is printed. It was printed on Friday, 26 June. I have a copy of the report here.

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I think the important point here would be: Is there any guarantee that the report has not been altered in any way? Is the report exactly the same as it was on 26 June? [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Order! Will you allow the speaker to be heard? Continue, hon member.

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I think the important point is this: The report may have been printed on 26 June in the ATC, but we as members are unaware as to whether there has been any amendment to this report, or anything like that at all. Because we are told that the committee only approved the report last night. We are not at all aware as to whether this is the same report that appeared in the ATC on 26 June.

The SPEAKER: Well, it is on the Order Paper, and clearly members should have checked on the Order Paper. Are there objections?

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, we were not going to object, but I think under the circumstances, I don’t believe we have any option but to object.

The SPEAKER: I now put the question.

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I am led to believe that if there is motion without notice, there has to be total agreement in the House. I am sure that we can actually vote on this motion now.

The SPEAKER: The Rules say there does not have to be unanimous consensus on this. The objections will be noted. The objections of the DA will be noted.

Agreed to (Democratic Alliance dissenting).

The House adjourned at 12:58.