Parliament decides there’s no need for inquiry into SABC

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Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications has decided that there’s no need for any inquiry into the goings on at the SABC.

This comes after a meeting between the committee, SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, CEO, James Aguma, members of the SABC board, Icasa and Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, was held today where the concerned parties had to answer questions concerning recent incidents at the public broadcaster.

Muthambi, Motsoeneng and Aguma steadfastly defended their actions at the SABC, further declaring that there is no crisis at the public broadcaster.

“The Committee welcomes the assurance by the Minister of Communications that the SABC remains a going [sic] concern that is in line to deliver on its public mandate. The committee is of the view that the foundation of the SABC’s ability to deliver on its critical role of educating and informing the public lies in handling its finances prudently,” the committee said in a statement.

“Of most importance to the committee is the assurance that the SABC is making headway in reducing matters of emphasis on its financial statements as raised by the Auditor-General since 2013,” added Humphrey Maxegwana, Chairperson of the committee.

Editorial policy

With regards to the SABC’s editorial policy, which saw the introduction of the ban on protest footage depicting the destruction of public property, the committee said it welcomes Muthambi’s assurance that there has been no shift in editorial policy at the public broadcaster.

“The minister assured the Committee that the decision that was made was purely an editorial decision which is part of the life of a newsroom,” it said.

However, the decision has since been ruled unlawful by the High Court and Icasa and violent protest footage has since been seen on SABC news bulletins in recent weeks.

The committee said while it accepts this explanation from Muthambi, it cautioned the public broadcaster against making decisions that might be interpreted as censoring of news.

“To this effect, the committee welcomes the pledge by the broadcaster to abide by the Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) ruling on the matter between the SABC and the Media Monitoring Project,” it said.

Fired journalists case unnecessary

The committee further stated that it also welcomes the fact that the matter between the public broadcaster and the journalists who were fired and re-hired in July has been finalised and closed.

“This incident has highlighted the importance of adherence to the labour laws of the country. Had the SABC adhered to these laws the court case would not have been necessary,” said Maxegwana.