The full Portfolio Committee on Communications approved the candidates who had been shortlisted by its sub-committee. The candidates were Adv Stephen Kekana, Ms Palesa Kadi, Ms Nomonde Gongxeka, Ms Yengwayo Kutta and Adv Demakatso Qoche. However, at the request of a Member, the shortlist was extended to include Mr Sydney Linder Petzer. A report on the shortlisting of the candidates was read by the secretary to the Committee, and was approved by Members.
The Chairperson also informed Members that he had received a letter from eight journalists who wanted the SABC to be investigated. Some Members felt that the issue addressed in the letter was a labour-relations matter, whereas others felt that it was about censorship. It was agreed that the letter should not be entertained, and it was suggested that the Committee should rather conduct an oversight visit to see whether the matters raised in the letter were valid and legitimate.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that the sub-committee had restricted the list of applicants for the two vacancies on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Council to five. The process was guided by sections 5 and 6 the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act 13 of 2000 (the ICASA Act).
He requested Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma, Secretary to the Committee, to read through section 5 of the ICASA Act, after which he said that the Act spelt out the criteria for eligibility of the persons to be appointed, and these had been taken into account. After briefing the full Committee on the outcome of the meeting of the sub-committee, he invited Members to comment on the decision of sub-committee.
Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) endorsed the decision.
Ms V van Dyk (DA) seconded Ms van Schalkwyk. However, she sought clarity on whether the list could be extended to six, or whether the decision of sub-committee was final.
The Chairperson responded that the shortlist had been submitted to the full Committee for consideration. Members could amend it.
Mr R Tseli (ANC) felt that the shortlist had been submitted to the full Committee for approval. Taking the interview processes into consideration, the shortlist should be limited to five candidates.
Ms P van Damme (DA) remarked that the full Committee had not been convened to rubber stamp the decision of the sub-committee. Members of the sub-committee should be given opportunity to provide their views on the shortlist and, if it was deemed best, to extend it. The Chairperson should hear them out.
Mr M Kalako (ANC) suggested that the full Committee should be given an opportunity to add one more candidate.
The Chairperson agreed.
Ms Van Dyk nominated Mr Sydney Linder Petzer, and gave a brief background on him.
The Chairperson noted the nomination, and said that the shortlist had been extended to six candidates. They were Adv Stephen Kekana, Ms Palesa Kadi, Ms Nomonde Gongxeka, Ms Yengwayo Kutta, Adv Demakatso Qoche and Mr Sydney Linder Petzer.
Prior to their interviews, they would have to go through security screening. Interviews might take place on Tuesday, 13 September 2016. He asked the Chairperson to read the prepared report for shortlisting candidates.
Mr Ngoma took the Committee through the report. He stated that the Committee, after having considered two letters from the Minister of Communications informing the Committee that Dr M Socikwa had resigned with effect from 31 January 2015 and that the position of the Chairperson would become vacant on 30 June 2016, and that there was a need to fill these vacancies, had started the process of filling the vacancies by advertising the posts, and a total of 35 applications had been received. The list of 35 had been shortlisted to five by the sub-committee, and had been extended to six by full Committee, to which Members had agreed.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the report covered every aspect discussed.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee should meet with the ICASA Council and with the SABC Board, because they had not presented when they had met with them. The Secretary to the Committee should ensure that the programme accommodated them. He also noted that he had received a letter from eight journalists who wanted to brief the Chairperson on the issue of investigating the SABC. The letter had been overtaken by the meeting of the Committee on 23 August 2016. At the time of receiving the letter, there had been no meeting scheduled between the Committee and the Department, as well as SABC Board. He felt that it was necessary to inform Members that he had received such a letter, among other correspondence. The letter had been a matter of discussion at the last meeting. He felt that the issue in the letter was an employee and employer problem, which could have been dealt with by the Union.
Ms Van Dyk remarked that the issue of a briefing by a journalist had been mentioned in passing, but it had never been tabled for discussion. The journalist in question should be invited by the Committee to come and brief the Committee on the matter at issue.
Ms Van Schalkwyk was of the view that the issue needed a careful approach. She remarked that the issue raised by a journalist was a labour-related matter. It should be resolved internally. In terms of labour relations, employees ought to exhaust internal remedies. The Committee should respond to the journalists’ letter, and advise them to exhaust the internal remedies.
Mr Kekana seconded Ms Van Schalkwyk. A letter from a worker could not be entertained if there were other remedies available. Ms Van Dyk had sought clarity on the matter because she was not fully informed on these issues. More important to note was that the SABC’s journalists were workers who should follow the same route other workers followed as far as labour-related disputes were concerned.
Ms van Dyk felt that the matter in question was not related to labour disputes, but was rather a complaint about media censorship.
Mr Tseli said that the letter had been sent to the Chairperson, and he felt that a letter could not be entertained because if it was, the Committee would not know what their duty was. It would be setting a wrong precedent which would create big problems for the Committee to deal with. He suggested that the Committee should rather conduct on oversight visit, as a response to the letter. The issue of the letter should be put to rest.
The Chairperson said that there were several state-owned entities, and their employees could not turn to the Committee whenever there was a labour-related dispute. Matters raised in the letter were about employee-employer relationships. On the question of whether Ms Van Dyk was not well informed on the matter, he remarked that Members were usually briefed by researchers and content advisors on matters which were before the Committee for discussion.
He finally noted that the brief provided by the Secretary to the Committee was a true reflection of the discussions.
The meeting was adjourned
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