Collected Resignation Letters of former members of the current SABC Board
Following the series of crises within the SABC since 2007 which led to the dissolution and appointment of an interim Board in 2009, SOS threw its weight behind the appointment of a new permanent SABC Board which, it was believed, would pull the SABC out of the financial and governance crisis it had been lodged in. The process in the main was a very democratic, participatory process with civil society putting forward approximately 200 names.
Not long after the appointment of this new Board in 2010, these same governance issues and further problems which would only serve to destabilise the public broadcaster resurfaced.
• Irregular appointments being made from the seat of the Chairperson of the Board;
• Seeing three CEOs in the space of two years;
• The Board still being without a full set of permanent executive directors;
• A continued lack of key corporate governance policies within the broadcaster
• Lack of clarity across the entire value chain of the SABC’s governance and oversight of a coherent turnaround strategy;
• Irregularities in the application of the SABC’s own editorial policies
to name but a few.
to name but a few.
To add to this, we started to see a whole slew of Board members, talented, respected and experienced public representatives in whom we had put our trust, leave the Board, and almost all of them under similar circumstances. In August of 2010, not eight months the Board took office, Barbara Masekela left who, the following month it would be Felleng Sekha, David Niddrie that same October and, finally, Peter Harris in June 2011. It is worth noting that Clifford Motsepe left the Board to take up office as an MEC in Limpopo.
SOS failed to get clear reasons for the resignations. The Coalition was anxious about this because the instabilities within the SABC were becoming more apparent, the crises seemed to be getting worse and, despite the spotlight that had been firmly fixed on the broadcaster between then and now, the Board was not explaining what was going on and what it was doing to resolve these issues. On the contrary, the Board and executive were, in fact, defensive and evasive when called on to answer to these issues.
SOS engaged the South African History Archive’s (SAHA) Freedom of Information Unit (FOIP) to assist us with our application and lodged a request in June 2012 to the President. The President appoints board members after Parliament has gone through an extensive process of public nominations, shortlisting and interviewing of candidates.
After a five month wait, caused by the section 48 delay, we finally received notification that our application had been successful and the letters of resignation were released and are now available on our website with the exception of one former Board member’s (Magatho Mello) who appealed the release of the letter. SOS is still awaiting the outcome of the appeal.
With the exception of Clifford Motsepe’s, the resignation letters collectively viewed, tell the same story of a Board beleaguered with internal strife, poor governance, undue interference from the Communications Ministry which have frustrated the proper functioning of the Board and a lack of support or political will from oversight structures to champion the Board’s efforts in turning the SABC around.
This seems to continue given the very public tussle between Ben Ngubane and Cawe Mahlati. Given these problems we suspect that Patricia Makhesha has resigned for the same reasons.
In addition to the release of this information, SOS has launched further PAIA requests which include:
• The shareholder compact between the SABC and the Minister of Communications who is the sole shareholder of the SABC on behalf of South Africans. SOS requested what should be a public document concerning public information about a public entity in April 2012 and has been denied access to it. We have nevertheless been able to obtain it and it can be found on our website.
• The minutes of the meetings of the Board between 1 January 2010 and 25 April 2012 (with sensitive information redacted) in April 2012, which request has also been outright denied.
• The Human resource policies of the SABC, specifically in relation to recruitment, also in April 2012. Also outright denied.
• Clear details on the digital incentive channels the SABC has lined up for the DTT launch, and
more specific details on the long-awaited SABC 24hr news channel
SOS remains of the firm view that this is public information South Africans have a right to and should
be voluntarily made available in the public domain. The SABC is our public broadcaster. We have a
right to be kept informed about its governance and management.