The parliamentary inquiry into the SABC resumed to a fiery start this morning as belligerent former board chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane took MPs on about how they’ve been running the inquiry.
He also threatened legal steps against the inquiry if the ad hoc committee made adverse findings against him.
Ngubane, who chaired the SABC board between 2010 and 2013, began by complaining that he had not been given sufficient time to prepare for his appearance before the committee. He said when Parliament contacted him about appearing, he was planning his December holidays. Ngubane revealed he requested the committee to give him until January 16 to prepare, but he was aggrieved that the committee decided to go ahead with the meeting on Friday morning.
Ngubane moved to question the inquiry’s terms of reference charging that as far as he was concerned the terms were limited to the current board (whose last member resigned in December) and did not affect the board that he chaired.
He also scolded MPs for allowing witnesses to make allegations about him in his absence. “My head was shaved in this House in my absence...”
Ngubane, whom previous witnesses had accused of protecting former SABC chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, leapt to Motsoeneng’s defence, saying Motsoeneng did “some wonderful work” despite not having a post-matric qualification.
Ngubane spoke about how Motsoeneng grew up as “a street kid, with no parents and without a home”, but still managed to get to matric.
He said this background and the skills that Motsoeneng showed in the work he submitted to the SABC (radio) justified his appointment despite not having an academic qualification.
Ngubane also defended Motsoeneng’s 63% salary increase in one year, saying Motsoeneng had come in from the provinces at a low scale and moved to the group executive level, which justified the salary increment. He said the increases were done by the book.
Ngubane resigned from the SABC board in March 2013 after his colleagues in the board resolved to remove Motsoeneng as acting COO, demoting him back to his old job at the broadcaster.
Ngubane’s successor, Ellen Tshabalala, is also scheduled to appear before the inquiry on Friday afternoon.