Broadcast signal distributor Sentech received a hard rap across the knuckles from members of parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Tuesday for its late distribution of crucial documents. “This is disrespect of the highest order,” ANC MP Eric Kholwane said, after members heard an apology and explanation from Sentech board chairman Quraysh Patel for MPs only receiving copies of his organisation’s revised strategic plan that morning.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications called off a meeting it was due to hold with executives from dysfunctional state-owned signal distributor Sentech on Tuesday morning. Sentech flew four company members, including its chairman, Quraysh Patel, to Cape Town this week to present its turnaround strategy to the committee. However, Sentech’s “plan for sustainability” did not reach the parliamentarians until Tuesday morning, giving them no time to review the document ahead of the meeting.
Government remains committed to switching off analogue terrestrial television, and completing the switch to digital broadcasts, by November 2011. But communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda has conceded the deadline may have to be revisited if the country decides to adopt a new standard for digital television. Nyanda was speaking at a press conference in Pretoria, where he announced the new members of the Digital Dzonga advisory council, which will advise government on the country’s planned migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications, chaired by ANC MP Ismail Vadi, has summoned the boards of the SABC and Sentech to answer questions about problems affecting both organisations. The committee on Thursday said it had “decided to invite the full board of the SABC to appear before it on 24 August 2010”.
Ousted communications director-general Mamodupi Mohlala says the way communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda fired her was akin to a “public execution”. Mohlala tells TechCentral that she had questioned the minister on several issues related to the running of the department. “But I never expected it to come to a head like this.”
A triumvirate of Sentech executives has been appointed to lead the troubled state-owned broadcast signal distributor until a full-time CEO can be appointed. TechCentral has learnt from sources at Sentech that a caretaker team has been appointed, led by acting chief operating officer Dingane Dube.
The ministry of communications is confident the board of directors it has selected to manage Sentech will turn around the state-owned business and it will not interfere in the running of the company. This is despite a newspaper report at the weekend that acting CEO Beverly Ngwenya and chief financial officer Mohammed Cassim had resigned and were being charged for “gross negligence” as a result of alleged reckless spending.