Muthambi takes swipe at SABC's critics

Faith Muthambi insists the SABC board has been working on problems it found at the SABC.

Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi on 28 July 2016. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board have come out guns blazing, in defence of the public broadcaster.

They are appearing before Parliament's communications committee, to address a range of issues affecting the SABC, including controversial editorial policy decisions, the axing of senior journalists, legal battles and its financial situation.

Muthambi and board members are insisting the current SABC management has been remedying problems already there but that it's under attack from unethical staff and other media.

The meeting got off to a rocky start with chairperson Humphrey Maxegwane insisting the committee had not agreed to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the SABC and the DA's Phumzile van Damme insisting that it had.

After they agreed to differ, Muthambi went on the offensive, taking swipes against the DA, mainstream media and civil society organisations critical of the public broadcaster.

"What we witnessed pre-elections was undue pressure on the part of certain sections of the society to force changes to the already approved policy and we believe if allowed it would erode the editorial independence of the SABC."

Parliament's oversight committee on communications has decided against launching a full inquiry into recent developments at the SABC.

Meanwhile, ANC Members of Parliament (MPs) are adamant there's no need for any inquiry after hearing assurances from Muthambi and members of the board.

The DA has been pushing for a proper parliamentary investigation into controversial developments at the public broadcaster.

Maxegwana told MPs it was important there was no confusion.

"We have listened to the SABC and the minister on the issues. We are going back to finalise that process but it's very clear that listening to the SABC we don't need an inquiry. This is what these members were saying."