Inquiry into SABC stymied

29 November 2016 - 08:37 By BABALO NDENZE and ERNEST MABUZA

Lone SABC board member Mbulaheni Maguvhe has taken his fight against parliament to the Western Cape High Court to interdict the investigation into the public broadcaster, just a day before it was meant to resume its inquiry.

Maguvhe wants MPs who serve on the ad hoc committee "disqualified" from conducting an inquiry into the SABC board's fitness to hold office.

In court papers filed yesterday, Maguvhe says the committee should be "reconstituted".

While he doesn't explain his reasoning, The Times understands Maguvhe will question the impartiality of the MPs on the committee, since some have commented on the crisis at the SABC.

Maguvhe wants a court order "directing that the ad hoc committee on the SABC is suspended and prohibited from continuing to perform the inquiry".

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He wants parliament's summons sent to him to appear before the inquiry set aside, saying he fears legal action if he does not appear before the MPs.

But Maguvhe will have to wait a bit longer after the court case was postponed to Friday.

"On the basis of legal advice, I instructed my attorneys to address an urgent letter to the chairperson of the ad hoc committee to inform him of the difficulties with the summons," states Maguvhe.

He goes on to say that despite the "difficulties", he was advised that it was "important to bring urgent proceedings in the honourable court for an order setting aside the summons".

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"If such an order is not sought and obtained, the ad hoc committee may, on the basis of my failure to comply with the summons, institute criminal proceedings against me, with very serious consequences for my freedom and dignity," says Maguvhe.

The hearing was due to begin today and continue for two weeks.

Committee head Vincent Smith said he found the timing of the interdict "disconcerting in that it happened at the last minute".

"But what I can tell you is that the ad hoc committee meeting at 9am will continue.

"The actual inquiry only starts at 2pm. A decision on a way forward will be taken after the 9am meeting," said Smith.

Last month the portfolio committee on communications resolved to institute an inquiry into the fitness of the board after a meeting at which the board was meant to explain the circumstances surrounding the appointment of controversial former chief executive officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.