South Africa: Freedom of Expression Institute Pushes for Change to SABC Law

Regulation & Policy

Legislation governing the SABC is set to change further, with the much-criticised Broadcasting Amendment Bill being further amended after President Kgalema Motlanthe refused to sign it into law.

And the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has renewed its efforts to have the SABC's articles of association amended in line with legislation and to remove government interference in the broadcaster.

The FXI says the articles are unlawful and unconstitutional and should be amended, and unless this is done by the end of next month, it has promised to seek a court order compelling the minister and the SABC to do so.

The FXI has sent a letter of demand to Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, SABC chairwoman Khanyi Mkonza and acting group CE Gab Mampone asking the SABC to amend its articles of association.

The FXI say that the articles, last amended in 2006, are unlawful as a result of the high level of interference from the communications minister they permit in the affairs of the SABC.

The articles conflict with the provisions of the Broadcasting Act and section 16 of the constitution, according to the FXI.

The problematic areas include the minister having veto power over the appointment of executive directors and the president having the power to appoint the chairman and deputy chairman of the board.

The minister also has veto power over the appointment of the group CEO and can approve the terms of his or her contract.

The FXI has also objected to the level of control the executive arm of government exerts over the SABC. This arises because the presence of the communications minister, who represents the government as the sole shareholder, is automatically the quorum for the SABC's general meeting.

Since the SABC board is bound by the resolutions taken at the general meeting, this gives the executive arm of the government direct control over the SABC.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said this was a shareholder matter.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications has amended the controversial Broadcasting Amendment Bill after Motlanthe refused to sign it into law, the committee said on Friday.

Business Day