Court threat over Zuma’s stalling on SABC board

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Court threat over Zuma’s stalling on SABC board

President Jacob Zuma, who is thought to be delaying the announcement of the new SABC board because it doesn’t suit his cause, might find himself in the Constitutional Court over the matter as early as next week, notes Legalbrief. According to a Weekend Argus report, the EFF, through its lawyers, has written to him, giving him an ultimatum to appoint the board or risk facing legal action. In the letter, the EFF raised concerns that the SABC has been without a board for two weeks, despite Parliament having recommended the permanent appointment of the former interim board members more than a month ago. ‘We demand that the President should appoint members of the board of the SABC from the Assembly’s recommended names, after a due process, no later than close of business on Monday (today). Should the President fail to do so, the EFF will immediately institute legal proceedings before the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis, seeking declaratory orders,’ the letter read. Last week, Zuma said he needed to satisfy himself that the interim board members ‘are fit and proper persons to serve on the board’ and that he needed to verify their qualifications.

Full Weekend Argus report (subscription needed)

Zuma and his Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo want to make their own appointments to strategic positions – chief operating officer, chief executive and chief financial officer – without the board’s input. Sources close to the process have reportedly told City Press that Dlodlo and the now defunct interim board, headed by businesswoman Khanyisile Kweyama, fought over the recommended names for these positions after the Minister insisted on being given the initial short list that the board had drawn up. Interviews for these positions were completed by the interim board in August. These board members told MPs during interviews that the candidates had been high-calibre professionals, with impressive CVs and qualifications. They said at the time that they hoped the top executives would be appointed by the time their term expired. City Press says it is alleged that Dlodlo wants to ram through her preferred candidates, while the ANC’s deployment committee also wants to have a say in who occupies the three strategic positions. Board members refused to give her the names and accused her of changing goalposts and making impossible demands. But Dlodlo stuck to her guns until the term of the board expired. But now, the fact that the five members of the interim board are back on the recommended list for the new board has created a new problem for the Minister as they will be involved in finalising the appointments when the new board convenes. City Press says that according to sources, this has necessitated Zuma delaying signing off on the board. The report says it appears Zuma has now instituted a duplication of the verification and vetting process that had already taken place in Parliament.

Full City Press report

The Presidency denied the manipulation allegations yesterday. A Business Dayreport quotes DA communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme as saying the public broadcaster’s board appointments were more than a week overdue. Van Damme said suspicions about Zuma’s intentions were based on his ‘well-known penchant for capturing independent public institutions. With the SABC being without a board, the President has created conditions ripe for capture.’ Presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said that the Presidency was concerned about ‘the rumours and gossip that continued to flourish with regard to the SABC board appointments’.

Full Business Day report

See more at Legalbrief