'I did not bully members of the board'

Ellen Tshabalala is the last witness to appear before Parliament's inquiry into the SABC board before it starts drafting its preliminary report.

A screengrab of former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala answering questions in Parliament.

PARLIAMENT - Former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala has denied bullying board members into appointing Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer (COO).

Tshabalala is the last witness to appear before Parliament's inquiry into the SABC board before it starts drafting its preliminary report.

Tshabalala presided over an emergency board meeting called in July 2014 to discuss two issues; the Public Protector's damning report on the SABC and “the COO matter”.

Earlier in the hearings, some board members claimed Tshabalala bulldozed them.

But she insists that’s not true: “I reserve my rights, but to answer your question, I did not bully members of the board. Members had the right to voice their views and they did so without any pressure.”

Evidence leader Nthuthuzelo Vanara read from board minutes the complaint of a former board member that he felt he’d been shut down during the board meeting.

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Tshabalala also admitted to having to deal with political pressure that she says came from the African National Congress, South African Communist Party and the Democratic Alliance.

This is in stark contrast to her predecessor Dr Ben Ngubane who earlier told MPs there was no political interference in the affairs of the public broadcaster during his tenure.

Inquiry chairperson Vincent Smith asked Tshabalala whether she was surprised by Ngubane’s statement: “The fact that Dr Ngubane said that there was no political interference, is that a surprise to you? Because in your tenure all of a sudden things changed, almost 360 degrees. Are you surprised by the statement that he made?”

Tshabalala responded by saying: “I’m not surprised, it could’ve been at a level where he wasn’t faced with issues that would’ve raised suspicions. But in my tenure there was a lot of political interference.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)