ANC interns used in SABC process

22 September 2013 - 02:50 By SAM MKOKELI and THABO MOKONE
SABC headquarters in Auckland Park. File photo.
SABC headquarters in Auckland Park. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg

Interns at Luthuli House, the headquarters of the ANC, were among those used to nominate new members of the SABC board.

Staff members at the headquarters were also part of the ANC's back-room manoeuvring to find SABC board members, which took the power away from MPs who had to agree to the handpicked candidates.

The Sunday Times has seen a memorandum by Lindiwe Zulu, head of the ANC's subcommittee on communications, which details how the party had identified good candidates long before parliament officially put together its list.

The Luthuli House list of 17 was submitted to the ANC's national executive early this month, two weeks before parliament's portfolio committee on communications met to consider the candidates.

The list was whittled down to 12 this week and given to ANC MPs to push through, a source said.

Opposition parties have accused the ANC of manipulating processes and pushing through the appointment of "lackeys" to gain full control of the SABC ahead of elections.

Five of those who made the final cut were nominated directly from Luthuli House - three of them by junior staff, including two interns, apparently on instructions from politicians.

In her September 4 memorandum, Zulu said she and an ANC study group had decided on "fit and proper individuals, including comrades".

Parliament's committee met only this week to decide on the new board at its public meeting on Tuesday - but sources said MPs were given a list to rubber-stamp.

In a surprise move, the ANC MPs dropped Lumko Mtimde, who was on the initial list submitted by Zulu but is regarded as "too independent" an ANC member. Mtimde served on the SABC board that was dissolved earlier this year and clashed with former SABC chairman Ben Ngubane over the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as acting chief operations officer.

When the SABC was constituted in 2007, the ANC faced similar accusations of party preference at the time of Thabo Mbeki's presidency.

Nomvuyo Mhlakaza, wife of ANC MP Buti Manamela and a member of the national task team of the ANC Youth League, was nominated by Luthuli House. MPs said broadcast policy researcher Kate Skinner was sacrificed in favour of Mhlakaza.

Keith Khoza, ANC head of communications who reports to Zulu, nominated Krish Naidoo, a legal adviser to the ANC's national disciplinary committee.

MPs had wanted to nominate Zola Majavu, a leading lawyer and former prosecutor for the Premier Soccer League.

Rerani Netshilema, a 24-year-old intern in the communications division, nominated Bongani Khumalo, CEO of Gidani, which runs the National Lottery. Another intern, David Shabangu, nominated businesswoman Ellen Tshabalala.

Noluthando Gosa, also a businesswoman, was nominated by Cikiswa Xoswa, a personal assistant to ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu.

Zulu said the ANC had a "high interest" at the SABC. "That does not necessarily mean we want to interfere as the ANC," she said.

"We are a governing party and, being a governing party, we have a high interest and that interest needs to be served by us being able to make sure that in all the strategic areas we have our own and we can't be apologetic about it. We need to have our qualified, capable comrades in strategic structures."

She said it was an insult to suggest that the party nominations were not competent to sit on the SABC board.

"People must go into their CVs and see who they are," she said.

Eric Kholwane, chairman of the communications portfolio committee, said "there was nothing wrong" about Luthuli House's influence.

The Democratic Alliance said the incoming board was designed to ensure positive coverage of the ANC ahead of next year's general elections. "They are there to rubber-stamp the decision of the SABC executive and management and not to rock the boat. They will make sure that a faction of the ANC gets positive coverage for the 2014 elections," said MP Marian Shinn.