Opposition parties are up in arms about a Bill tabled on Friday by Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi that would give the government complete control over the public broadcaster, the SABC.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill would remove Parliament’s role in the appointment of the SABC’s non-executive board members, says Phumzile van Damme, shadow minister of communications.
“The President will now appoint non-executive members of the board on the advice of the Minister, not Parliament. The Minister will be advised by a “nominating committee” she appoints herself,” Van Damme explains.
“The Bill will also reduce the number of the non-executive board members from 12 to nine; reduce the quorum from nine to seven; and specifies a new procedure for their re-appointment, removal and resignation of non-executive board members.
“The Broadcasting Amendment Bill is, quite simply, bad news for South Africa’s democracy,” Van Damme says.
“It will see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become a government propaganda tool under the control of Minister Muthambi.
“Along with the SABC Memorandum of Incorporation secretly signed by Muthambi in September last year, which gives the Minister of Communications the right to usurp the board’s powers reducing it to a mere rubber stamp, the Bill will give the ANC complete control over the SABC.”
The DA will use every mechanism available to it to make sure that it does not become law in order to protect the independence of the public broadcaster, Van Damme says.