Phumzile Van Damme MP
DA Shadow Minister of Communications
After three months of putting the county first, ANC members of the SABC inquiry ad hoc committee today u-turned, and decided to put the ANC first by shielding its own from accountability.
When it is too good to be true, it usually is.
First, the ANC, supported by some members of the opposition, voted against holding members of the ANC who served on the Portfolio Committee on Communications and blocked every effort by the DA to hold the SABC board, its executives as well the Minister of Communications accountable.
Over the last two years, the DA has spent millions and gone in and out of court in an attempt to bring stability to the SABC.
Attempts to use parliamentary mechanisms were blocked by the ANC at every turn. The suggestion of “collective responsibility” only serves to protect ANC members from personal accountability.
Secondly, at the eleventh hour, the ANC decided not to include recommendations in the committee’s interim report citing “fairness”. This is after the proposed recommendations having been discussed at length in the committee.
It makes no sense that sending a full interim report, with interim recommendations would be tantamount to unfairness.
The SABC would be given the opportunity to give its input on a full report, instead of an incomplete one. In fact, giving the SABC, and affected parties an incomplete interim report is unfair, and could open the committee and Parliament to litigation.
It is quite clear that the u-turn by the ANC happened after the DA began pushing for tough recommendations, which included:
• That the President dismiss Minister Faith Muthambi for contravening the Constitution as well as the Executive Ethics Code, and not be given another executive position elsewhere;
• That Minister Muthambi be investigated by the Public Protector and Parliament’s Ethics Committee for violating the Executive Ethics Code
• That criminal charges be laid against Minister for misleading Parliament and therefore contravening the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act;
• That SABC board face charges for financial misconduct and contravening the Public Finance Management Act and the Powers and Privileges Act;
• That Theresa Geldenhuys, the former Company Secretary of the SABC be charged for misleading Parliament and thereby contravening the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act;
• That the Portfolio of Public Enterprises hold an inquiry into the fitness of Dr Ben Ngubane to serve on the Eskom board as Chairperson
It is quite clear that on hearing these proposed recommendations, the ANC got cold feet and pulled back after stellar non-partisan conduct during the course of the SABC inquiry.
The DA will not be party to any process that seeks to shield anyone, including the ANC from accountability.
After years of being blocked at every turn by the ANC bringing stability to the public broadcaster, we now more determined than ever to ensure that this happens.