Parly wades through 323 applications to fill eight SABC board posts

19 February 2019 - 16:53 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. MPs says they may have to work extra hours to meet the March 20 deadline to fill the SABC board vacancies.
SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. MPs says they may have to work extra hours to meet the March 20 deadline to fill the SABC board vacancies.
Image: Waldo Swiegers / Sunday Times.

Almost a third of the people who applied to fill the eight vacancies on the SABC board were young people looking for internships.

Unfortunately for them, they will remain on the sidelines as their applications were set aside by parliament as unsuitable.

The portfolio committee on communications is recruiting candidates to fill vacancies on the SABC board, which is currently inquorate and cannot take legally binding decisions. The committee will finalise its shortlist next week and interview the shortlisted candidates a week later.

The committee heard on Tuesday morning that there were 323 applications received – 80 of them from a previous recruitment process that was not finalised last year. The remaining 243 came in over the December period following the resignations of four board members in November.

Of the applications, 90 were from people looking for internships - but they were disqualified. This means that the committee will have to wade through 233 applications to find the eight people to fill the vacancies.

“It's people who just saw an advert and did not read or delve on the details of the advert,” said a committee staff member, who was briefing MPs on the process followed to date.

Following the four November resignations, the committee said it would return early from its Christmas break to fast-track the recruitment process amid concerns that the board does not have a quorum.

Chairperson of the communications portfolio committee, Hlengiwe Mkhize, said there were no ulterior motives: the process was moving slowly behind the scenes and parliament staff were starting to process the applications in mid-January.

“It's a due process overseen by the legal department. There are steps; you can't just jump and take over. They only finished with the summaries [in terms of the qualifications] last week," she said.

"As a committee, when we took the decision [to fast-track], we had thought the process would be much quicker, but I understood when they explained the screening that they had to do," she explained.

Opposition parties and civil society organisations have previously raised concerns about parliament's failure to fill the vacancies on the SABC board. Suspicions are that the ANC wanted to dissolve the inquorate board and appoint an interim board going into the elections, which would be pliable to the governing party.

At Tuesday's meeting, ANC MP Lerumo Kalako warned that the schedule will be tight and that the committee may need an extension from parliament to complete its work.

"If we seek an extension it's got another implication, it will mean if we do not finish before parliament rises, it will mean parliament would have to be reconvened ... that's another danger we must look at," he warned.

MPs noted the filling of board vacancies is an urgent matter that may force them to work extra hours if they are to meet the March 20 deadline by which the current terms of parliament ends.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said it was "a shame and an embarrassment" to blame the secretariat of the committee for delays in the process. She said it was unfair to put blame on administration staff and that the committee's chairperson should shoulder the blame. Van Damme further charged that it is possible for the committee to meet the March 20 cut-off even if it means meeting over weekends.

Meanwhile the committee resolved to write to the National Assembly about the removal of Rubben Mohlaloga from the Independent Communications Authority of SA. Last week, the North Gauteng High Court sentenced Mohlaloga to 20 years imprisonment for defrauding the Land Bank of R6m. The committee's resolution for Mohlaloga to leave office has to be approved by a sitting of the National Assembly to come into effect.