‘SABC board cannot arbitrarily remove members’

The public broadcaster’s board sacked three non-executive members in March this year.

FILE: The Broadcasting Act provides two separate processes for the removal of a board member. Picture: Tshepo Lesole/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's legal advisers have told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board cannot arbitrarily remove any of its members because it goes against the provisions of the Broadcasting Act.

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications asked for legal advice after the public broadcaster's board sacked three non-executive members in March this year.

The board, as well as Communications Minister Faith Muthambi relied on provisions of the Companies Act to legitimise the dismissals.

From the onset, parliamentary legal advisers said their opinion sets out in broad terms the procedure that would have to be followed to legally remove a member.

Nathi Mjenxane from the legal services office told MPs that any removal of an SABC board member that is not in line with the provisions of the Broadcasting Act is 'invalid and unlawful'.

"The SABC board has no legal competency to arbitrarily remove the member of the board."

He explained that whenever there are two or more pieces of legislation dealing with the same subject, priority should be given to the law that is more specific to the subject matter, which in this case is the Broadcasting Act.

The Broadcasting Act provides two separate processes for the removal of a board member; in both cases the president has to remove the member.