SABC delegation sent packing from parliament

A delegation from the SABC and department of communications was sent packing from parliament on Wednesday by MPs for “disrespecting” the legislature’s second chamber by not sending a proper delegation.

Irate MPs in the National Council of Provinces select committee on communications and public enterprises were fuming that neither communications minister Ayanda Dlodlo nor her deputy Thandi Mahambehlala had bothered to attend the meeting as shareholder representatives of the public broadcaster.

They were not happy that acting director general of the department Basani Baloyi was also absent.

The SABC only sent interim board member John Mattison and acting group chief executive Tsheliso Ralitabo.

Dlodlo‚ who is said to be off sick‚ sent her advisor Sandile Nene‚ who apologised on her behalf. The meeting lasted barely 15 minutes before the SABC delegation was told to pack their bags and leave.

ANC MP and chairperson of the committee‚ Ellen Prins‚ said the meeting was “long overdue after all the things that happened in the SABC”.

The meeting was intended to discuss issues relating to financial problems like the non-payment of salaries and service providers.

ANC MP Zukiswa Ncitha was the first to voice her unhappiness.

“I was going to talk exactly to the matter of representation of the ministry as well as the representation of the DG of the department‚ a person that is supposed to account on the work of the organisation. I raise it because I see it’s becoming a norm that when the departments are coming to the NCOP‚ the DG will not be there‚ the minister will not be there. I take the apology that minister is sick‚ but I’m saying as a matter of fact‚ in these meetings‚ we are here to make the department account‚” said Ncitha.

She said the issue should be reported to the office of the leader of government affairs in parliament‚ which is Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Prins said in some instances ministers do not put in the “extra effort” to attend NCOP meetings.

“It’s not the first time we raised it. We can see a trend‚” said Prins.

[pullquote]“It’s not the first time we raised it. We can see a trend‚” said Prins.[/pullquote]

The DA’s Jacques Julius said the country had a “bloated cabinet” and ministers and deputies could not claim to be overworked.

“I strongly suggest we send the SABC back … I would strongly advise the SABC not to continue because it will be a fruitless exercise‚” said Prins.

Aumsensingh Singh of the ANC said the director general didn’t even send an apology.

“That is unacceptable because the minister is sick and everybody gets sick‚ and not sending an apology shows disrespect‚” said Singh.

Prins eventually ended the meeting without the SABC presenting its corporate plan and strategy.

“Thank-you very much and I’m sorry about that‚” said Prins.

By Babalo Ndenze‚ Parliamentary Team – Tiso Black Star Group