MPs on Wednesday resolved to ask South African Broadcasting Corporation non-executive directors to resign, failing which they would institute a parliamentary inquiry into fitness of the board to hold office.
“In principle we have taken a decision on an inquiry. Parliamentary processes will have to be followed properly,” said Humphrey Maxegwana, chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications following a lengthy and dramatic meeting with the board.
“Secondly, we will have to write to individuals of the board to say this is the state of affairs in the board, may you please resign and then we hear what they say, but the decision is we’ll go for an inquiry.”
Maxegwana said it was highly doubtful the remaining board members would honour a request to resign.
The committees’ resolution came after board chairman Obert Maguvhe and acting group chief executive officer James Aguma defended their decision to appoint the ever controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng to the senior post of chief executive for corporate affairs. The appointment came after the Supreme Court of Appeal would not entertain an appeal of a high court decision invalidating his appointment as chief operating officer.
Later, two board members broke ranks with Maguvhe and the rest of the board, telling the MPs they would quit and called for the dissolution of the board.
“I have come to the conclusion that this board is dysfunctional. It should be scrapped and personally I would be resigning today as a board member,” said Krish Naidoo, who has been vocal about how he had voted against the move to reinstate Motsoeneng.
Naidoo, a lawyer, went on to tell the committee that the SCA had the final say on Motsoeneng’s future at the broadcaster.
“That’s the final door, you are no longer an employee of the organisation, as simple as that,” said Naidoo.
“The point that the SCA decision had nothing to do with Motsoeneng as an employee, I mean that is absolute nonsense. Whoever gave the SABC that advice should be shot.”
Naidoo lashed out at Aguma, saying while he had the power to move Motsoeneng from the post of chief operating officer to group executive for corporate affairs, he did not exercise the power in a fair manner.
“When you give power to an executive like a CFO, CEO or COO, there’s a duty on that incumbent to exercise that authority in a judicious way..when you exercise power in an arbitrary way which happened in the case of Mr Motoeneng being appointed as chief executive: corporate affairs, there was no proper procedure followed,” said Naidoo.
“When I listen to an executive at this level talking in such mundane terms you know it actually makes out a case why this board should be dissolved.”
Fellow board member Vusi Mavuso concurred with much of what Naidoo was saying, adding that he, like Naidoo, had been ostracised when key decisions were made at board level.
He told MPs that he had been given no opportunity to make input or see the presentation to MPs before it was tabled in the committee on Wednesday morning.
“I was completely flummoxed when I saw that and I said what is happening? There seems to be some kind of isolationist approach to ostracise certain board members for whatever reason, I may not know,” he said.
He said the board was dysfunctional and “not following due process” when it made decisions. Mavuso then told MPs he too would quit his job.
“I cannot afford to be party to that and for that reason, chair, I believe that seemingly my contributions are not adding much value and it’s more the reason that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m tendering my resignation today.”
While Motsoeneng remained silent during the committee meeting, he raised MPs’ hackles for the comments he made outside of the briefing room.
“I just wanted to bring to your attention as well, as we are sitting here as a committee, Hlaudi Motsoeneng outside has been saying that for those who are thinking we are gone they are thinking wrong. This is just the beginning so I just wanted to say to you, Mr Motsoeneng remains defiant,” said Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liezl van der Merwe.
Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu however was not concerned, saying Motsoeneng’s “rantings and chicken bravery” would not sway MPs from their quest to oust him.
“We are not going to be intimidated by Hlaudi,” said Shivambu.
“There’s no one who is indispensable in South Africa. We have got a rule of law, we’ve got a constitution that guides how things must be done so he must not treat us like we are kids…and harass us without consequences. The time of games has come to an end. He must live with that reality now.”
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