DA wants Ramaphosa to reject SABC board nominees

19 March 2019 - 18:03 By THABO MOKONE
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said her party had written to Ramaphosa requesting him to decline the appointment of Professor Saths Cooper and David Maimela.
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said her party had written to Ramaphosa requesting him to decline the appointment of Professor Saths Cooper and David Maimela.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

The DA is petitioning President Cyril Ramaphosa to reject some of the names approved by parliament to serve as new SABC board members.

This comes after the ANC used its majority in the National Assembly to vote in the names of candidates interviewed for eight vacant seats on the SABC board, despite objections by several opposition parties.

Speaking during a debate on Tuesday, DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said her party had written to Ramaphosa requesting him to decline the appointment of Professor Saths Cooper as an SABC board member.

PODCAST: Listen to further debate on the topic

"Professor Cooper is candidate we strongly disagree with. He has no broadcasting experience and during his tenure as vice-chancellor of the University of Durban-Westville, a report by the minister of education found him to be manipulative and prone to surrounding himself with acolytes.

"We believe that Professor Cooper will destroy the SABC. During the interviews he came across as arrogant and he will not be a team player. Professor Cooper displayed disdain and contempt for members of the committee which is worrisome. We've written to President Ramaphosa to say he must not be included on the SABC board," said Van Damme.

The DA did not support the appointment of another candidate, David Maimela, saying he is a well-known ANC activist who would not be non-partisan as an SABC non-executive director.

Maimela is also a former president of SASCO, an ANC-aligned student organisation.

The EFF's Nazier Paulsen said they also did not support the appointment of Cooper and Maimela.

"If this parliament continues to recommend compromised individuals, we will once again sit with an SABC that's unable to live up to its mandate.

"We do not believe that some of the individuals here have the will and capacity to fix the SABC. We therefore reject this report," he said.

The IFP's Liezl van der Merwe said her party also did not support the report from the communications portfolio committee. She said it was regrettable that very few media industry experts made themselves available for the SABC board positions.

Van der Merwe said this was a clear indication that media professionals were avoiding the SABC because they didn't want to take orders from ANC politicians.

"One of the clearest indications that the so-called new dawn ANC still regards the SABC as a state broadcaster, came when one of the ANC MPs, during the interview process, kept on asking the candidates how they would ensure that the SABC told the good story of the ANC government over the past 25 years. Clearly no one gave that MP the memo, that in fact, that's the mandate of the GCIS and not a public broadcaster," she said.

But the ANC's Lerumo Kalako lashed out at the opposition, saying the "DA is suffering from a Hlaudi Motsoeneng syndrome, we've passed that a long time ago."

"The opposition to Cooper, Maimela and Benjamin Lekalakala, by the DA in particular, is precisely because they fear the independence and credibility of these individuals.

"In fact it was just a last straw by the DA and EFF to say David is on social media campaigning for people to vote for ANC. So what? He's a South African, it's his choice. Your independence is to have people who are lackeys to you, we're not like that. He's a very sharp young mind who's written many papers, who's done deep research about South Africa, who will hit the ground running, that's David. No one can match David, coming from this side,"said Kalako as he pointed to the DA side of the chamber.

In the end, the matter was settled by a majority vote, with the ANC winning by 198 votes while opposition parties garnered only 78 votes.

The other incoming SABC board members are media expert Mary Papaya, Dr Marcia Socikwa, former pension funds adjudicator Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi, Bernedette Muthien and Jasmina Patel.

The list will now be sent to Ramaphosa for ratification, in terms of the broadcasting act.

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