On 13 August the Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) issued the following statement on what it terms the “SABC board’s loss of integrity’. The statement reads: “Effective boards are required to jealously guard against loss of integrity, conflict of interest and erosion of credibility.
“A good board will protect the reputation of the individual member within that of the collective and will certainly strive to deflect any reputational slant away from itself and the business for which it provides oversight. The SABC board seems to have other priorities other than to provide thought-leadership both within the SABC itself across the sector and most of all even as a corporate citizen.
“It is very disturbing that news of highly sensitive and confidential deliberations regarding the status of an alleged descenting board member is broken by a union official who speaks with such authority that a spokesperson for the SABC finds it appropriate to confirm and corroborate. This is by no means the first time and it has become standard conduct where this union is used as a purveyor and bearer of board news. Clearly having an ‘ear to the ground’, being a permanent ‘fly on the wall’ and being ‘in the loop’ take on a different meaning here.
“The chair of the board should speak on the affairs of the board and definitely not an employee of the SABC, let alone an official of an independent union. It would have been inappropriate even for the chairperson of the board to ventilate on this either, given the fact that there is a recognised and appropriate process to address differences of view and opinion amongst members of a self-respecting Board. In this instance the shareholder, the National Assembly and the President have designated roles in addressing a truly sad state of affairs as reportedly maintains within the SABC board. These structures should legitimately and with good reason feel undermined and compromised by the breach of confidentiality as presented by the publicizing of the confirmed statement.
“There are policies and procedure to address the tempting lure of lucrative tenders, to proactively prevent and to address concerns around supply-chain-management as well as conflict of interest if there is breach.
“For as long as the SABC Board does not actively pull itself together, it will never redeem its long lost integrity. Allowing such leaks of sensitive information and not lifting a corrective finger to contain the situation is certainly not acting in good faith and care towards the SABC.
“This Board under the leadership of Dr Ben Ngubane must desist from playing victim to and hostage of other interests. It must justify the trust vested in it by the citizens of this country and truly act the part. It is obscene that such mediocrity and seamless shenanigans continue to define the tenure of this board and little public value is realised since taking office. This board has not provided any inspiration or positive role-modeling despite presiding over the biggest broadcast- media-outfit on the continent.
“Where the SABC and its board should lead in debates around technological and leadership innovations, innovative programming and creation of public value through inclusive participation in national discourses, citizens are overfed breaking news on extended despotic battles for power, influence and tenders. Critique is invariably treated with scorn as we no doubt expect a dose in this regard. Censorship apartheid style.
“The ‘termination with immediate effect’ of the MWASA recognition on 4 August 2011 was effected and is being maintained to ensure that “no-one destabilises our SABC again’. If what is happening at the SABC headquarters amounts to stability, then we are doomed as a country and nation.
“Our call for this misguided entity to be placed under administration is inspired by the need to protect and preserve what little is left of credibility and integrity at the SABC. Our concern is for the professional men and women who have to carry the national mandate under the weight of an otherwise preoccupied management and Board. These workers deserve a break from a predatory management and a narcisistic board.’