Parliament’s constitutional and legal services unit has found that communications minister Faith Muthambi effectively acted unlawfully when she threatened SABC board members with removal and again when she removed them.
In a statement, parliament’s portfolio committee on communications said “any removal of the SABC board member that is not effected in line with the provision of the Broadcasting Act is invalid and unlawful”.
The committee resolved to discuss the matter further with Muthambi.
Committee chair Joyce Moloi-Moropa said: “Upon engagement with the minister on this matter, we will then discuss way forward regarding its implications.”
Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis also welcomed the legal opinion. “We have said all along that the minister acted irrationally and unlawfully,” he said.
Davis said that among the findings were that the SABC board had no power to remove one of its members. It also may not conduct an inquiry into a board member’s fitness to hold office. Only the president, acting upon the recommendations of the parliamentary committee, can remove a board member.
The legal opinion sought by parliament found that the Broadcasting Act supersedes the Companies Act when it came to the SABC board.
Muthambi previously maintained that the Companies Act trumped the legislation that governs the broadcasting industry.
Appearing before the portfolio committee in March, she said the Companies Act allowed her to change the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation and allowed for the board to remove one of its own.
Davis said the committee should push for the reinstatement of the three board members who were removed. “The Minister’s only further involvement should be to issue an apology and an undertaking that she will not stand in the way of these board members returning to work.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media