Guy Berger
Guy Berger

Party HQ shouldn’t call shots on SABC — Mathews Phosa

Mathews Phosa
Intervention by ANC headquarters to change Parliament’s nominees for the SABC board last year was not only “going too far”, it was actually “corrupt”.

This strong assessment comes from ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa, speaking to the South African National Editors’ Forum in Johannesburg on Saturday.

It should be up to Parliament to resolve who sits on the SABC board, not the party, said Phosa — whose views are clearly influenced by his general unhappiness with President Thabo Mbeki.

But, added the influential ANC leader, there were “no angels” in the saga last year where Luthuli House had replaced four people on the parliamentary list of names, which then went to Mbeki who appointed the members in December.

“The parliamentary committee should never have agreed to have the names changed, and, if he knew about it, the president should not have approved the list,” said Phosa.

Furthermore, “integrity dictates that those members should step down if they were smuggled in”.

Earlier, with reference to Mbeki himself, Phosa complained that “our democracy is not mature enough for a defeated president to resign just after Polokwane — that would have happened elsewhere, but there seems not to be a culture of resigning here”.

The ANC treasurer general said there is a need to resolve who the competent authority is over the SABC. He said the Broadcasting Act needs to be amended to balance the accountability of the SABC to Parliament with accountability to civil society.

The board should not be reporting exclusively to the same parliamentary committee that nominated it, he argued.

I’ve written here about my take on the SABC’s governance.