The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition welcomes the appointment of Thami Ka- Plaatjie to the Board of the SABC and to the position of Deputy Chairperson. Further, the Coalition welcomes the appointment of a permanent new SABC CEO, Lulama Mokhobo.
The Coalition notes that the appointment of the Deputy Chairperson is important for the smooth running of the Board. The Deputy Chairperson fulfils a number of important duties in the absence of the Chair. We wish Mr Ka-Plaatjie every success in his new position and pledge our support to assisting him and the Board to fulfil their duties of steering the SABC back to a position of health and stability. Moving forward the Board must craft a new public service vision that places quality public programming at the centre of the SABC’s operations.
The Coalition however does remain concerned that five SABC Board members have resigned since the beginning of 2010. We hope that the Board is prepared honestly and carefully to assess the reasons for these resignations. In line with this assessment, we hope that the Board is putting measures in place to ensure that some of the deep-seated corporate governance problems, including alleged Board infighting, that have unfolded in the past do not recur in future. The Coalition will continue to carefully watch developments on this front.
The Coalition also wishes Ms Mokhobo success in her new position. We note the enormous pressures of this job and the tough decisions that need to be taken to ensure the successful implementation of the SABC’s turnaround strategy. We will keep a watchful eye on all progress in this regard. SOS and its members note the need for strong leadership in this position.
Further to the above, the Coalition must highlight an ongoing problem which needs attention and resolution – the issue of appointments of SABC executives. The Coalition notes that in line with the SABC’s present Articles of Association, the Minister played a key role in approving the appointments of the three executive members of the SABC Board including the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. However, the Coalition reiterates that this is contrary to international good practice with respect to public broadcasting regulation. To ensure the independence of the SABC from all vested interests be they government or commercial, the Board should take sole responsibility for these appointments without any input from the Ministry.
The SOS Coalition represents a number of trade unions including COSATU, COSATU affiliates CWU and CWUSA, FEDUSA, BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); and a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA); as well as a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.