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Parly committee rejects SABC's claims it is biased

Ad-hoc committee chair Vincent Smith says accusations that members are biased are unsubstantiated.

Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Ad-hoc committee chair Vincent Smith says accusations by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) delegation that its members are biased are unsubstantiated and he rejects them with the contempt they deserve.

Smith is holding a briefing after a meeting with a delegation from the public broadcaster as part of the probe into the board’s fitness to hold office.

The day was marred by a walkout and disruptions with the sole remaining non-executive board member Mbulaheni Maghuve claiming his rights were violated because some documents presented to him were not in braille.

At the same time, the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng called for some of the ad-hoc committee members to recuse themselves, saying they’ve pre-judged the SABC.

Smith says these accusations are baseless.

“There is no basis to say this committee is biased and we’re not sure in what sense are we biased or vindictive because from observing what happened today, we dealt with facts.”

He says Maghuve’s claims that he was being sidelined because of his disability was a delay tactic.

“We deliberately today asked the Auditor-General if he’s ever presented in braille and he said never, we asked the Public Protector when she does her presentations if there is a query raised because it is not in braille and she said never and we asked the portfolio committee and they said never.”

The ad hoc committee says it will summons Maguvhe if he fails to attend Thursday’s committee proceedings.

Smith said: “If the professor is confident of his convictions, he must come and raise those matters to the committee so that we can discuss. But we are not going to engage in press conference negotiations.”

He says the public broadcaster’s members were informed well in advance of the dates on which proceedings would start and have no excuse for Wednesday’s walkout.

The chairperson says that the SABC delegation was given enough time to prepare.

“On 17 November they were given a whole list of what they are expected to do and as indicated that this hearing will be conducted in English. However, if there is anybody that would prefer translation, they should notify the committee five days before the time.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)