The ministry of communications has washed its hands of the SABC’s internal problems in what has been described as a move to distance itself from chaos at the public broadcaster.
In a statement on Monday, communications minister Faith Muthambi said her office had decided not to pursue an interventionist stance ahead of parliament’s portfolio committee meeting to discuss ongoing woes at the SABC. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
The SABC has come under fire for a controversial editorial policy that has involved not broadcasting visuals of violent protests. Moreover, the broadcaster last month also moved to dismiss journalists who opposed this policy.
“Our view is that these are in fact operational issues which need to be resolved by the board as the accounting authority for the corporation,” said Muthambi in the statement.
“Failure to observe this key constitutional and policy provision would, in fact, render the ministry as interfering with the duties of the board and management of the public broadcaster. This is something we have not done in the past, and that we do not wish to do in the future,” she added.
DA shadow minister for communications Phumzile Van Damme said that the Muthambi was trying to distance herself from the problems at the SABC.
“She [Muthambi ] has been directly involved in some of the incidents that have taken place. She is trying to remove herself from the chaos taking place at the public broadcaster,” Van Damme said.
On Tuesday, Muthambi, the SABC board, controversial chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and communications regulator Icasa are expected to appear before the portfolio committee to address issues facing the public broadcaster.
Among issues to be discussed are Icasa’s order to withdraw a decision preventing the broadcast of violent protests and financial issues facing the broadcaster.
“She [Muthambi] is trying to defend herself before the committee meeting. She has openly defended Hlaudi Motsoeneng prior to the elections and supported the decisions he has taken. I hope she shows up to answer for herself,” Van Damme said.
Muthambi’s spokesman, Mishack Molakeng, said the minister would be present at the portfolio committee meeting on Tuesday.