REPORT: Legal Opinion Presented on the Removal Of SABC Board Members
Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Services division found that, the removals of the three SABC board members, earlier this year, was unlawful.
According to Parliament’s legal advisors, an SABC board member can only be removed in one of two different ways. The first is after a member has been found guilty of misconduct or is unable to perform their duties to a basic standard, the board member can then be removed by the presidency after an inquiry that finds the board member guilty.
The second manner in which a board member can be removed is after a committee of the National Assembly launches an inquiry into the misconduct or inability of a board member to do their job, if found guilty the National Assembly can then pass a resolution recommending to the presidency that this board member be removed. It is also important to note like in the previous scenario, the board member must be given ample opportunity to defend themselves.
However, the board can also make recommendations to the President for the removal of members.
It was only in regards to what was the next step for the committee to take in regards to what was established as the unlawful removal of SABC board members where opinions diverged between ANC and opposition MPs.
Gavin Davis of the DA urged the committee to take swift action in regards to the legal opinion, he suggested that the committee should send letters to the removed SABC board members with attached copies of the legal opinion notifying them that they could return to work.
The chair and ANC MPs rejected this proposal claiming that it was procedurally incorrect. Rather they suggested that the Minister of Communications should be sent a copy of the report and given a chance to respond to it, before the next meeting of the committee, in which the decision about the way forward would be made. Although it was the opinion of the legal services team that the minister had no say in the appointment of SABC board members, it was unclear whether ANC MPs and the board saw this process as something they had to include the minister in or saw the minister as the stakeholder to be consulted.
Davis further suggested that the Legal services team be consulted for the procedurally correct next step in the process but the chair dismissed this. ANC MPs also contradicted themselves insisting that this be dealt with in a speedy and efficient fashion, but postponing any decision to an unspecified future engagement with the Minister after she has been given a chance to digest the legal opinion.
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi disagreed with the ruling parties stance and suggested the minister should be invited to the next meeting to be dressed down and informed of the illegality of her earlier acts, to caution a repetition of such action.
The meeting was then concluded with the decision that the Minister of Communications was to be sent a copy of the legal opinion and be given a chance to respond to it at a future meeting of the committee.