Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter


‘It’s unlawful’: Legal action looms after CEO given power to serve as SABC board

SABC has been without a board for nearly four months.

Civil society organisations have threatened legal action against government as the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) continues to be without a board.

SABC has been without a board for nearly four months despite a shortlist of candidates nominated having been approved by Parliament in terms of the Broadcasting Act.

The National Assembly recommended 12 candidates to President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2022, with three additional names also selected.


SABC group chief executive officer (GCEO) Madoda Mxakwe has been designated as the board of the broadcaster to the dismay of lobby groups; SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA).

After the state of the nation address (Sona) last week, Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed that the decision had been made “with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance as the board of the SABC”.

ALSO READ: Calls mount for Ramaphosa to appoint new SABC board

Both SOS Coalition and MMA have criticised the move, arguing that the two ministers exceeded their powers.

“On a simple basis of good governance, it cannot surely be legitimate for one individual to be given board powers and make decisions that otherwise require 15 members of which 12 are non-executive members,” the organisations said in a statement.

“The minister’s assertion that the GCEO is the board is at odds with even the most rudimentary elements of governing the SABC.”

‘Orchestrated delay tactics’

The organisations also questioned the manner the appointment was announced through “an ad hoc interview”.

“The public was not informed of the decision when it was taken and its basis which raises further questions about the decision. The lack of transparency gives credence to rumoured political interference and orchestrated delay tactics in appointing the board,” they continued.

The decision, according to the SOS Coalition and MMA, was unlawful.

READ MORE: SABC newsroom was in a serious state of decay, Zondo hears

“Nowhere does it make a provision for SABC executives to be appointed in the absence of the board. Thus, we believe the appointment of the GCEO as the accounting authority is illegal and a breach of the Broadcasting Act.

“SOS Coalition and MMA would also like to understand the basis on which the ministers are mandated to make such appointments at the SABC?”

The organisations added that they were taking legal advice and would act on an urgent basis if necessary.

“Assuming it was legal, which we dispute, to appoint the GCEO as the accounting authority in the interim, it could only be the president who could stipulate that the GCEO could act as interim accounting authority with board powers.”

Board candidates

The process of appointing the new SABC board had dragged on for months due to delays in vetting, which is conducted by the State Security Agency (SSA).

The previous board’s term ended on 15 October.

Former SABC head of news Phathiswa Magopeni, former SABC journalist Dr Renee Horne, veteran broadcaster Mpho Tsedu, and the CEO of the Association of Comms and Technology Nomvuyiso Batyi, have been given the greenlight to serve on the new board.

The other recommended candidates included Advocate Tseliso Thipanyane, Khathutshelo Ramukumba, Professor Franz Krüger, Aifheli Makhwanya, Rearabetsoe Motaung, lawyer Magdalene Moonsamy and Dinkwanyane Mohuba.

The National Assembly also adopted three additional names – Zolani Matthews, Palesa Kadi and Quentin Green – who were placed on a reserve list to be appointed if one of the 12 candidates were unable to serve on the board.

NOW READ: SABC board: Delay in appointments ‘worrisome’ and could lead to ‘destabilisation’

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits