Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
27 June 2008

SABC and the ANC – dangerous moves

News reports suggest that the ANC in Parliament wants to amend the Broadcasting Act to give Parliament the power to hire and fire the SABC Board.

This is a dangerous and astonishingly stupid idea because it would make the SABC Board directly beholden to the majority party in Parliament. If the National Assembly can fire the SABC board they will be tempted top put pressure on the board to toe the party line or be fired. This will scupper any last vestige of independence at His Masters Voice.

Can one trust any majority partuy in parliament not to abuse such power? The answer is, of course, that one cannot. Besides section 192 of the Constitution states that national legislation must establish an independent authority to regulate broadcasting in the public interest, and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society.

This suggests that broadcasting must occur in the public interest and that the SABC should not be beholden to the majority party whims in Parliament.

What is required is not more political control of the SABC but LESS political control. The reason why there is such a mess at the SABC is exactly because Mbeki forced the National Assembly to appoint a Board it had not selected. This was probably illegal but now it is a bit late to do anything about it.

Much better would be to amend the Broadcasting Act to ensure that the appointment of the SABC Board is de-politicised. But the chances of this happening is about as slim as the chances of Robert Mugabe having tea with Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ai politicians. What did we do to deserve them?

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