Communications minister Faith Muthambi on Tuesday laid into her critics in parliament, accusing MPs of flouting the constitutional separation of powers over legal opinion they sought over her decision to remove three SABC board members, Ronnie Lubisi, Rachel Kalidass and Hope Zinde.
According to a report by the African News Agency on Tuesday, Muthambi said that under the Companies Act, the board has the right to remove its own members without the involvement of the president, who appoints them.
Earlier this year, parliament’s constitutional and legal services unit found that Muthambi effectively acted unlawfully when she threatened SABC board members with removal and again when she removed them.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications said “any removal of the SABC board members that is not effected in line with the provision of the Broadcasting Act is invalid and unlawful”.
Only the president, acting upon the recommendations of the parliamentary committee, can remove a board member, Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis said at the time.
The legal opinion sought by parliament found that the Broadcasting Act supersedes the Companies Act when it comes to the SABC board.
But Muthambi continues to maintain that the Companies Act trumps the legislation that governs the broadcasting industry. Appearing before the portfolio committee in March, the minister 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 earlier this year that 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.”
According to the African News Agency, Muthambi was having none of it on Tuesday, telling MPs: “It is not a function of parliament to tell a member of the executive which law must be applied over other legislation… It offends the doctrine of separation of powers.” — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media