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MPs threaten to summon SABC board boss to face inquiry

Mbulaheni Maguvhe on Wednesday indicated he will not attend proceedings because his rights have been infringed upon.

A screengrab of SABC acting CEO James Aguma and SABC board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe at a press briefing.

CAPE TOWN – South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Board Chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe is scheduled to present his case to a Parliamentary inquiry into the SABC board’s fitness to hold office on Thursday.

But Maguvhe, who is partially blind, on Wednesday indicated he will not attend proceedings because his rights have been infringed upon.

He and a SABC delegation walked out of ad hoc committee proceedings on Wednesday after his legal team demanded documents be made available in Braille.

Following the SABC delegation's exit from the committee, presentations were heard from the Public Protector, the Auditor General's office and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Committee Chairperson Vincent Smith says Maguvhe abandoning proceedings will not deter the committee from fulfilling its mandate.

“Parliament will summon him if need be. We have the right to summon him. We dispute the fact that we violated his rights as we said earlier on, but I don’t think it’s his call about whether he’ll appear here or not.”

The inquiry is scheduled to run until 15 December and then resume in January.

The committee has to submit its findings to Parliament by the end of February.

'ACCUSATIONS BASELESS'

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

But Smith has said the 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(Wednesday), we dealt with facts.”

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

“We deliberately 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.”

He said 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.

MOTSOENENG DEFENDS SABC

Meanwhile, Motsoeneng has defended the public broadcaster saying it's doing well financially.

He's also said the SABC’s problems did not begin with him at the helm.

“The ad hoc committee in their creed to try to look for information and deal with the issues but what we are saying is that we are willing, as long as there is fairness in the process where we can assist the colleague, so that we don’t have all these issues about the board being dissolved every time."

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)