The Broadcasting Amendment Bill, which will essentially turn the SABC into a state-controlled broadcaster, is bad news for South African democracy.
So believes Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme, who said the bill, which was tabled by communications minister Faith Muthambi on Friday, must be viewed as unconstitutional.
The Sunday Times reported that the minister introduced legislation that would give her the final say on who was appointed to the broadcaster’s board.
The bill seeked to remove parliament’s role in the selection of the SABC’s nonexecutive board members.
“The nine nonexecutive members of the board must be appointed by the president on the advice of the minister,” the bill says.
As it stands, parliament’s communications committee interviewed and shortlisted candidates, before presenting the president with a list. And with the new bill, the minister will advics the president on the appointments, with the help of a nomination committee appointed by the ministry.
The bill also reduces the number of non-executive board members from 12 to nine.
Van Damme said the bill would see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC.
“The DA will use every mechanism available to it to make sure that it does not become law in order to protect the independence of the public broadcaster.
“Any machinations to remove the independence of the SABC must be viewed as not only undemocratic, but also possibly unconstitutional.”
This is not the first time the minister has flexed her muscles within the SABC.
Muthambi has come under fire in parliament this year for a number of decisions taken about the SABC, including the dismissal of board members including Hope Zinde.
In a presentation in parliament in March, following the amendment of the SABC’s memorandum of incorporation, she said: “Myself as the minister, as the sole shareholder representative, I have the authority to appoint the chief executive officer, chief operations officer and the chief financial officer, therefore under the circumstances, I also have the ability to discipline or suspend them.” — News24