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SACP welcomes Mantashe's demand that Minister Muthambi be dealt with

The minister failed to attend a meeting with the ANC’s communications commission over the SABC crisis.

FILE: Department of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - The South African Communist Party (SACP) has welcomed African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe's demand that the ANC caucus in Parliament now deal with Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, after she failed to attend a meeting with the ANC's communications commission over the crisis at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Meanwhile, political analysts said that the way different parts of the ANC have spoken on this issue showed how divided the party was.

The SACP's Alex Mashilo said that he hoped that everyone in the ANC would obey Mantashe and stop talking about this issue.

"We hope that all members of the ANC and individual leaders will heed the call by the secretary general because that call is in the best interest of the African National Congress."

The ANC's communications commission had ordered Muthambi to rein in Hlaudi Motsoeneng, while North West Premier Supra Muhamapelo and the MK Military Veterans Association had backed him.

Political analyst Ralph Matheka said: "It shows how the ANC is divided and how the decisions we have seen from within the ANC are spilling over into state institutions."

He said this made it difficult for these institutions to go forward.

CRISIS AT THE SABC AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

With crucial municipal elections just three weeks away, pressure is mounting on Parliament to intervene in the crisis at the SABC.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said it has asked National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to urgently convene the communications oversight committee.

Earlier this month, a similar request by the Democratic Alliance was turned down.

House chairperson in charge of committees, ANC MP Cedric Frolick, told the DA that matters would be dealt with only when Parliament reconvenes after the elections.

Casac's Lawson Naidoo said that while Parliament was in recess ahead of the municipal polls, this did not absolve it of its duty.

"Casac has written to the Speaker requesting that the portfolio committee be reconvened now as a matter of urgency."

Naidoo said that the Broadcasting Act gave Parliament the authority to call Muthambi and the SABC board to account, with the power to dissolve the board if necessary.

"We are in a crisis situation and Parliament needs to step up to the plate, to defend the interests of ordinary South Africans that need a public broadcaster that provides fair and objective coverage of news events as they happen."

Naidoo said that the SABC was failing to live up to its constitutional mandate as a public broadcaster and that this had implications for the freeness and fairness of the local government elections.

He said that while the ANC was free to discuss the problem, it was only Parliament that had the power and authority to ensure that citizens' confidence in the SABC was restored.

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