Lone member of the SABC board, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, will abide by the Western Cape High Court ruling and submit to the parliamentary inquiry looking into the fitness of the board he chairs.
The court dismissed his urgent attempt to stop the inquiry from going ahead where he registered reservations about the constitution of the ad hoc committee looking into the broadcaster and saying he had no confidence that it would act fairly and impartially.
Maguvhe had an issue with two DA MPs – Phumzile van Damme and Michael Waters – whom he claimed are “infected with bias, partiality and lack of independence”.
In his affidavit, Maguvhe claimed that Van Damme had persisted with calling him unpleasant names even after his application to the court where he sought to have an inquiry in which he may be treated with dignity and on the basis of fairness.
In court, Maguvhe’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Masuku argued that his client’s rights were at stake, adding that they wanted a subpoena against Maguvhe to submit SABC documents to the parliamentary committee to be set aside.
“He is also entitled to appear before an ad hoc committee that is independent and is impartial,” said Masuku.
Judge Siraj Desai dismissed Maguvhe’s application with costs, which he was instructed to pay from his own pocket.
On Saturday, Maguvhe’s instructing attorney Lucky Thekisho told City Press that he was yet to meet his client but when they meet, he would advise him to abide by Desai’s ruling.
“We think that we made our point very clear and we will see how they are going to conduct this inquiry. As soon as the rights of our client are violated, we have the option of taking this matter on review,” said Thekisho.
He said they would advise and encourage Maguvhe to attend his hearing.
The SABC has also accused the Parliament ad hoc committee of bias while questioning the partiality of the witnesses that the committee has invited to give evidence.
In an affidavit to the high court, acting chief executive officer of the SABC, James Aguma, also raised reservations about the constitution of the ad hoc committee, saying the public broadcaster has no confidence that committee would act fairly and impartially.
Aguma charged that the majority of the witnesses were known both publicly and to the ad hoc committee to hold strong negative views against the SABC, citing “discontented journalists” – Thandeka Gqubule, Krivani Pillay, Vuyo Mvoko and Lukhanyo Calata – who have taken the SABC to the Constitutional Court.
Aguma then dragged ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe into the SABC’s politics.
He questioned the decision to invite former SABC board member Krish Naidoo to give evidence, saying: “Krish Naidoo, who is known to be linked to and to share the negative views of Gwede Mantashe, has been called. Both Naidoo and Mantashe have been vocal about the SABC …”
He decried the decision not to invite the SABC’s executive leadership nor Ellen Tshabalala, the former SABC board chairperson who resigned after having lied about her academic qualifications.