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Mantashe: New SABC chairperson raises eyebrows

Gwede Mantashe says its concerning that the chair of the board Bongumusa Makhathini is also the chair of the first lady Bongi Ngema's foundation.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has raised concerns about President Jacob Zuma's appointment of Bongumusa Makhathini as chair of the SABC board, saying the appointment raises eyebrows.

Mantashe was speaking at Luthuli House earlier on Tuesday after the president finally appointed the SABC board.

He says while they welcome the appointment of the SABC board, they have concerns about its chair.

“We raised concerns when we saw the pronounced board and said we know South African as a noisy country that pays attention to everything.”

He says its concerning that Makhathini is also the chair of the first lady Bongi Ngema's foundation.

“It’s an issue. He is appointed and that is an institutional appointment but we say that issue is an issue that will be raising eyebrows.”

Mantashe says they hope Makhathini’s performance will outweigh contradictions.

Meanwhile, the Right 2 Know campaign has called on the newly appointed SABC board to ensure management at the public broadcaster is independent of government at all levels.

The civil rights group says it's concerned that President Zuma has appointed two loyalists to the board with Makhatini and deputy chair Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, who is a close associate of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Right 2 Know's Biko Mutsaurwa said: “Why would the president deliberately place the two candidates who are closest to himself and the ANC in the most powerful positions of the board. We are warning the president about the consequence of trying to re-capture the SABC.”

At the same time, the Save Our SABC (SOS) coalition says strides are being made to curb political interference at the public broadcaster.

The North Gauteng High Court earlier on Tuesday delivered a judgment limiting the powers of the Communications Minister in appointing and firing members of the board.

The court declared powers given to the minister undermined the public broadcaster's independence.

SOS Chairperson Thandi Smith questioned the timing of the court judgment and Zuma's cabinet reshuffle announcement.

“I really do think we’re in the right direction when it comes to the political interference at the SABC and at the board level, we really do have some really, really great people on the SABC board. So, for now, we continue to support those members. We continue to work towards good governance and good accountability mechanism.”