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Dept assures MPs SABC will remain independent

The Dept of Communications says it’s committed to ensuring an independent & accountable SABC.

A picture taken on 20 October, 2010 shows the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) headquarters in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP
SABC,South African Broadcasting Corporation,SABC board selection,Broadcasting Amendment Bill,Broadcasting Act
Local

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Communications has assured Members of Parliament (MPs) it’s committed to ensuring an independent and accountable public broadcaster after opposition parties cautioned the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) autonomy was threatened by a new draft law.

The Broadcasting Amendment Bill, if passed, will give Minister Faith Muthambi powers to recommend SABC board members for appointment by the president.

The bill, which was tabled in the National Legislature late last year, removes Parliament's role in the appointment process.

The department's acting Director General Norman Munzhelele addressed concerns about the independence of the SABC.

“The minister, even currently, does not have the power to determine the policy of the SABC. But as far as the issues relating to the functioning and the stability of the board, the minister has to have a role to play.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s Phumzile Van Damme asked to see legal opinion on the constitutionality of the bill as well as legal advice on whether Parliament is barred from dealing with the proposed amendments because the issues raised in the bill are the subject of an ongoing litigation.

Three organisations have taken legal action against the minister, Parliament and the SABC over the board's controversial decision to remove three of its own last year.

Parliament was warned by its own legal advisers that the removals, endorsed by the minister, were in contravention of the Broadcasting Act.

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)


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