The SABC has refused to hand over 10 of 15 requested documents to parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of its board, MPs heard on Wednesday.
Ad hoc committee chairman Vincent Smith informed the committee on its first day of work that the broadcaster had only handed over five of the requested documents.
The broadcaster was concerned that handing over seven of those documents would “jeopardise” its commercial interests, he said.
A further three were “no longer in the SABC’s possession”.
The seven refused documents include the broadcaster’s recent “90-10” policy on local content, a deal with MultiChoice, a report of its internal audit committee, and a skills audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The three documents “not in the broadcaster’s possession” are: the appointment documents of group executive for corporate affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC management’s response to the auditor-general’s 2015/2016 findings, and internal audit committee meeting minutes.
MPs slammed the last remaining board member, Obert Maguvhe, the SABC, and acting CEO James Aguma on their refusal to hand over the documents.
“I’ve been in parliament since 1994, so I have some experience. It is unacceptable that parliament cannot be provided documents from a state-owned enterprise that we control,” Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Narend Singh said.
“In my 17 years, never ever has any institution decided not to hand over documents to parliament,” Democratic Alliance deputy chief whip Mike Waters said.
ANC MP Juli Kilian could not believe that three documents were not in the SABC’s possession.
“Appointments of staff cannot just be nowhere to be found,” she said.
She said those trying to stifle parliament’s work could face criminal charges, and suggested taking legal counsel on the matter.
ANC MP Jabu Mahlangu said he couldn’t see how handing over policy documents would affect the SABC’s “commercial” interests. He said the broadcaster was a public enterprise, not a commercial one.
Economic Freedom Fighters MP Fana Mokoena said Maguvhe needs to write to the committee to tell it why he should not be dismissed, following this “farce”.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the SABC was disrespecting parliament.
Smith said the non-presentation of the documents was “not negotiable”, and had instructed the legal team to go to the highest court in the land if needs be.
The documents were requested on 17 November.
Smith also revealed on Wednesday that Maguvhe had launched a late appeal on Tuesday against judge Siraj Desai’s decision last week to dismiss his request with costs.
Desai had said he would give his reasons at a later stage.
The committee took a thirty minute break on Wednesday to discuss the way forward.
“After listening to the legal team, and taking advice from legal counsel, we go back to the point we made when we started, that parliament would not be deterred from its work,” Smith said after their private meeting.
“There is no court order as we speak from continuing its work, and so shall it be. We will continue, today.”