Shinn writes in detail to SABC interim board chairperson

Marian Shinn, the shadow minister of communications has written an open letter to Zandile Tshabalala, the new chairperson of the recently established South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) interim board, to offer advice.

Shinn described the six month tenure on the SABC board as an “onerous responsibility as many people before” had learned. She added it was “conducted in the unforgiving glare of a nation that wants a public broadcaster it can trust, be proud of and that serves its needs”.

Shinn said for almost seven years, the nation has found the SABC to be wanting.

Furthermore, Shinn said because the interim board “has little institutional memory of the details and tensions surrounding current SABC issues there are genuine concerns that Cabinet and SABC’s executive management will exploit this to get approval for items that were challenged – often for valid, corporate governance reasons – by the previous board”.

Shinn’s ten actions and issues are what she believes as “critical for the interim board to focus on”.

The ten points she raised include meeting the creative and production, the advertising people, understand their anger and frustrations and identify priority concerns to be addressed by management.

Shinn also highlighted the need for the board to quickly resolve the “legal fracas” surrounding the departure of former chief operating office Mvuso Mbebe.

“The minister (Dina Pule) must be given a deadline to approve or reject the previous board’s nominee for the vacant position of acting chief operating officer,” Shinn added.

“Should she reject the name of Mr Mike Siluma the board must then choose another candidate to replace Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng who was legally removed from his post by the previous board. The board must not be persuaded to re-instate him.”

Shinn also wants the board to revoke the permission for final editorial control to be the held by the chief operating officer.

The shadow minister believes the SABC employ too many people for its purposes. She said the board needs to decide whether “the SABC is a job-creation factory, held to ransom by trade unions, or whether it is to honour the conditions imposed on it by National Treasury”.

Shinn also called on the SABC board to “insist that the suppliers for the set-top box access control system – that was the subject of e.TV’s successful court action last year against the minister – be chosen in an open and transparent tender”.

Shinn mentioned how Pule preferred the Sentech/Nagravision alliance to handle the ZAR30 million (US$3.2 million) multi-year contract.

“The current disciplinary procedure against the former chief financial officer Ms Gugu Dada must take its course.

“The board must ensure that financial resources for programming must not be further eroded to create the impression that the SABC’s financial woes are over. The previous annual report showed that the books were being balanced because little was being spent on commissioning new content. Digital TV will only take off if there is quality content to view.”

Shinn believes these short-term actions will help the SABC and prevent it from being “crippled further”.

Posted in: Policy

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