Inside the SABC board interviews

Charl Blignaut
2017-08-30 00:31
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 SABC. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Today is the start of the interview process to find a new board for the embattled public broadcaster.

The parliamentary communications committee will be interviewing the 35 shortlisted candidates until the close of business on Friday.

As we did in 2013 when the previous board collapsed as well, City Press and the SOS coalition are teaming up and sharing resources in order to cover the interviews blow by blow.

We’re doing it to scrutinise each candidate, to test our democratic processes and parliamentary procedures, and to make as transparent as possible the machinations behind control of the country’s most consumed media operation.

The SABC is a microcosm of what is happening within South Africa’s state-owned entities.

A board alone cannot save the SABC, but a strong, independent and accountable board is vital if it is to be saved.

Change at the broadcaster may appear to be happening from the outside, but inside the building a great deal of control remains in the hands of the enforcers of the policies of now-shamed former boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The real work will only start after the new board is appointed.

City Press’ Sabelo Ndlangisa will be introducing readers to each candidate before they take the hot seat and parliamentary reporter Andisiwe Makinana will be live tweeting the interviews, as will SOS coordinator Duduetsang Makuse.

Follow events at @City_Press and @SOSCoalition for the retweets.

Makinana will also offer a round-up of each day’s interviews, while offering insights into the committee doing the interviewing.

Many signs indicate that there is the political will to elect the strongest board possible. But are the candidates up to the job? And is the political will really there?

After all, we’ve been reporting on collapsed and corrupt SABC boards since 2009 when Ben Ngubane, implicated in the #GuptaLeaks scandal, took charge of the board of what could be a national treasure.

Who’s who of the SABC board candidates on day 1

The first 11 of the shortlisted candidates nominated and supported by various different political parties will be interviewed today. Sabelo Ndlangisa has been finding out about them:

1) Leanne Govindsamy has been an attorney of the High Court since 2011. She studied at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Notre Dame in the US, where she graduated summa cum laude. A former member of Aspen’s Young Africa Leadership Initiative for SA, she’s currently reading for a master’s degree in anthropology. She works as Corruption Watch’s head of legal and investigations, and her responsibilities include probing reports of graft, crafting legal solutions to corruption, and anti-corruption advocacy. She previously worked for the law firm Cheadle Thompson & Hayson Incorporated and Bangalore’s Alternative Law Forum.

2) Dzuguda Rufus Kharidza is a trained teacher and social worker. His string of qualifications include a master’s degree in development and a social work degree from the University of Limpopo. He’s currently serving as a commissioner of the Broadcast Complaints Commission of SA and is also a director of the Gateway Airport Authority Limpopo, where he also sits on the audit committee. He previously worked as the spokesperson of the University of Venda, doubling as the CEO of the university’s foundation. He entered into an agreement to leave the University in 2008 after City Press reported that his unit gave a bursary to his daughter.

3) Michael Sass, a chartered accountant by training, works on various boards and is an independent consultant. His most recent positions include being the director and head of public sector issues at the Business Innovations Group and being the accountant-general at the National Treasury. He has extensive experience in government and was part of the team that set up the Gauteng Shared Services Centre in the early 2000s. The expertise listed in his curriculum vitae include general management, budgeting, policy setting and turnaround management.

4) Dinkwanyane Kgalema Mohuba, a dean of students at the University of Limpopo, believes that he could use his “marketing, communications, public relations, management … and corporate governance skills in order to add value to the public broadcaster.” In addition to a masters in business administration from Regenysis Business School, he has other qualifications in education and management. He was previously the university’s director for communications and marketing. He has served on the board of small entities, none of which work in public broadcasting or journalism.

5) Louise Carole Vale sits on the board of the Media Development and Diversity Agency and is also a member of the Press Council. She plays a key role in championing the representation of community media in different forums in her other capacity as the executive director of the Association of Independent Publishers. A trained teacher and activist, she has a long history of involvement in education through civil society organisations.

6) Bongumusa Emmanuel Makhathini is the director of legal and external affairs at British American Tobacco. He previously held senior positions at South African Breweries and Accenture, where his work included public policy, stakeholder relations and information technology. He did his general management programme at Harvard Business School and has a master’s degree in business management from the University of Johannesburg. He describes himself in his curriculum vitae as having a “track record in delivering and sustaining results” and says he has “demonstrated competencies in managing solid relationships with people across all levels”. The downside is that he has no previous exposure to journalism or running media institutions.

7) Rene Seipati Khumalo, a journalism graduate from Tshwane University of Technology, is a campus manager at Jengrac TVET College. She’s a former lecturer at the college. Her journalism experience includes a position as senior producer at ANN7 and being a producer at SAFM. She hasn’t held any senior management or director positions.

8) John Matisonn currently serves on the interim board of the SABC. He’s a veteran journalist who cut his professional teeth at the Rand Daily Mail from 1974. He did jail time for refusing to reveal the source of his reports on the Muldergate scandal. He worked as the Rand Daily Mail’s Washington correspondent before he came back to SA to work as the Johannesburg correspondent for America’s National Public Radio. He’s also the author of God, Spies and Lies—a book that includes “extensive new research about the SABC’s history”. He has served as a councillor of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, where he chaired the committee that produced the country’s broadcasting policy.

9) Tshifhiwa Chris Khorommbi works at the SABC where his duties include managing the studio floor and sound, camera, auto-cue and vision control. He’s been there since 2004. An audiovisual production management graduate from the then Rand Afrikaans University, he also serves on the Gauteng Arts and Culture Council which advises on such issues as the development of arts and culture in the province. Khorombi has been a judge in the MTN Radio Awards since 2014. He speaks six languages, including Xitsonga, Setswana and IsiZulu.

10) Jack Howard Phalane is a lawyer and partner at Fluxmans Attorneys, where he specialises in mergers and acquisitions. He also has experience in the field of telecommunications and broadcasting law. He recently completed his Master of Business Administration at Wits Business School.

11) Jim Matsho is the executive director of Duduzani Consulting CC, a firm specialising in advising communities on rural development projects and capacity development for land reform beneficiaries. He also runs a trucking business and a farming business. A holder of several postgraduate qualifications in management and economics, he has no experience in either broadcasting or directing a major company.

SABC board interview schedule Wednesday August 30
1. Ms Leanne Govindsamy 09:30 – 10:20
2.Mr Rufus Dzuguda Kharidza 10:20 – 11:00
TEA BREAK 11:00 – 11:20

3. Mr Michael Sass 11:20 – 12:00
4. Mr Dinkwanyane Mohuba 12:00 – 12:40
5. Ms Louise Vale 12:40 – 13:20
LUNCH BREAK 13:20 – 14:20
6. Mr Bongumusa Makhathini 14:20 – 15:00
7. Mr John Matisonn 15:00 – 15:40
TEA BREAK 15:40 – 16:00

8. Ms Seipati Khumalo 16:00 – 16:40
9. Mr Tshifhiwa Khorommbi 16:40 – 17:20
10. Candidate withdrew 17:20 – 18:00
DINNER BREAK 18:00 – 19:00

11. Mr Jack Phalane 19:00 – 19:40
12. Mr Jim Matsho 19:40 – 20:20

*City Press’ coverage of the SABC board interviews was done in partnership with SOS coalition, a civil society coalition committed to, and campaigning for, public broadcasting that is in the public interest. Visit the SOS coalition for more.

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