War of words over minister “meddling” at the SABC

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi lashed out at DA spokesman Gavin Davis on Wednesday after he accused her of meddling in the SABC board.

“The minister is calling upon Honourable Davis to act with restraint and with responsibility as required by the oath that he took rather than dragging a public institution into disrepute,” her office said in a statement.

This was after Davis claimed in a press statement on Monday that there was “a climate of paranoia, fear and intimidation at the SABC under acting CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng”.

He accused Muthambi of taking too long to appoint a new SABC CEO.

“Muthambi’s foot dragging raises suspicions that she is keeping the CEO position open so that Motsoeneng can act as CEO for as long as possible.

“And, while Motsoeneng goes about intimidating staff, Muthambi is waging an unlawful intimidation campaign of her own against SABC board members perceived as disloyal.”

Shortly after Motsoeneng was elected to serve in this role, Davis claims, Motsoeneng called a staff meeting where he allegedly accused staff members of leaking confidential documents.

Muthambi’s office criticised Davis for making “spurious accusations … which have never been tested in any objective and fair process”.

“The level of detail, however spurious and inaccurate, provides a prima facie evidence that Honourable Davis is behind the scenes, illegally colluding with some of the individuals whose interests he purports to be protecting.”

The ministry questioned the timing of Davis’s “level of activism” with regard to SABC matters as it “coincides with the appointment, albeit on an acting capacity, of a black person at the helm of a public institution”.

“In addition, the minister will not allow a perception to be created that if you are a black woman minister, you need a white male babysitter.”

On Wednesday Davis described the ministry’s response as “rather hysterical”.

Davis said he had seen a letter Muthambi allegedly penned to some members of the SABC board.

“In the letter, the minister threatens to recommend board members’ removal unless they give her good reasons for not doing so.

He said she had no legal powers to remove board members or recommend their removal.

“According to Section 15A of the Broadcasting Act, it is up to Parliament to recommend the removal of board members after due inquiry into their conduct, not the minister.”

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War of words over minister “meddling” at the SABC