Johannesburg – The parliamentary portfolio committee on communications has joined the SABC row.
Committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana has expressed “serious concern” over the sudden resignation of the SABC’s acting group chief executive, Jimi Matthews.
“It is concerning to see an executive member of staff, charged with the strategic responsibility of navigating the company, deciding to resign unceremoniously.
“Mr Matthews was an asset to the public broadcaster and has formed part of the team of diligent men and women who steered the SABC to its financial stability,” said Maxegwana.
But he said he’s confident that the board, together with management, can handle the transition in a manner that does not impact negatively on the core business and mandate of the SABC.
“We will prioritise a meeting with the board to get a detailed briefing when we resume after the elections in August,” he said.
The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has commended Matthews on his stance to resign from the public broadcaster.
In a statement, Sanef said Matthews was, at least on paper, the most senior official of the corporation.
“That he feels there is a corrosive atmosphere that he as the chief executive cannot do anything about, speaks volumes about corporate governance within the SABC.
“The SABC is an asset of the South African public as a whole and that it is being turned into a state broadcaster that only serves the interests of the ruling party is wrong and must be condemned.
“The apartheid regime – through omissions and commission – used the SABC as a propaganda tool, but was not able to dupe the South African public. It is the public that is short-changed by this misuse of state resources and it is, in the end, the public that must ensure it fulfils its constitutional role as a public broadcaster.
“We call on the leadership of the SABC to urgently reverse its decision to censor the news and allow its journalists to work in a free environment that does not compromise their ethics,” said the statement.
Cosatu on Monday also condemned the SABC regarding its decision not to broadcast the destruction of property during protests.
“The SABC ought to be the voice of the South African people, informing, educating and entertaining all our communities and reflecting the diversity of our cultural, linguistic, political, religious and social heritage,” Pamla said.
He said they expected the public broadcaster to deepen its accountability to its audience and to the general public by being transparent in its activities.
On Tuesday afternoon, DA leader Mmusi Maimane was expected to lead a picket outside the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park to call for the removal of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer and “bring an end to the undemocratic censorship which we have witnessed in his tenure”.
“Motsoeneng has, throughout his tenure at the SABC, proven that he is not a fit and proper person to hold this position.
“He has demonstrated his unsuitability and the latest resignation of Matthews, citing the corrosive atmosphere is evidence that he needs to go at once.”