Zuma threatens to undermine SABC clean-up

09 October 2017 - 07:04 By The Times Editorial
SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
Image: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times.

It is no secret that the SABC has been in turmoil for some time. The Hlaudi Motsoeneng chapter of the public broadcaster's history will always be recalled as tumultuous and costly to taxpayers.

However, the SABC has recently been on the mend, with parliament's inquiry into allegations of mismanagement being a key turning point. Since then the interim board has scrapped the editorial policy that led to journalists being hounded out for wanting to represent the situation in South Africa accurately.

The interim board also stood firm on taking action against those who helped plunge the SABC into chaos. In a few short weeks it rid the organisation of CEO James Aguma and former COO Motsoeneng, both of whom were implicated in allowing the rot to creep into the public broadcaster.

The steps taken thus far to resolve the crisis at the public broadcaster, which remains in major financial trouble, are evidence that the ship can be set on the correct course with determined leadership. However, the SABC is still without a full-time board two weeks after the term of the interim board ended.

President Jacob Zuma has justified leaving the public broadcaster without board leadership by saying that he is conducting his own vetting process, despite parliament having conducted interviews and its own vetting process with the support of the State Security Agency.

Zuma's stance not only appears to undermine parliament's work but also disrupts the momentum gained by the interim board. Considering that the communications portfolio committee completed its report into the candidates on September 6, why has Zuma taken his time to finalise the appointment? The president's role is not to oversee parliament; parliament is meant to oversee the executive.

Zuma's inertia threatens the gains made in cleaning up the public broadcaster and he should not waste any more time.