Minister on SABC Memorandum of Incorporation & Shareholder Compact; Implementation of Committee recommendations

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Communications

20 February 2018
Chairperson: Mr H Maxegwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Communications updated the Committee on the progress made by the Department on the Shareholders’ Compact and the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The Department also briefed Members on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) and its oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal.

At the outset, the Chairperson advised the meeting that the chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) had been convicted on charges of fraud and money laundering. Therefore, the Committee did not necessarily have to deliberate on the matter anymore, but did need to finalise it.

The issue with the MOI stemmed from the Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) taking the Minister to court in October 2017. According to the judgment, improper ministerial interference in the affairs of the SABC had been demonstrated in the report of the ad hoc committee in its inquiry into the fitness of the SABC board, which had found that the previous Minister of Communications had unlawfully interfered in the affairs of the board. The issue in contention was that in 2014, the then Minister had amended the MOI, giving her wide powers to appoint the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the SABC, and to veto any rule change proposed by the board relating to its governance. The court’s judgment was that there had been improper ministerial interference in the affairs of the SABC. Currently there were two MOIs – the one which was signed in 2013 by Minister Carrim which followed the due processes of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), and the second which was signed by Minister Muthambi in 2014, and was not filed with the CIPC, hence the judgment. After the court had invalided the latter MOI, it was discovered that the court had relied on an incorrect MOI – the one that had not been filed, which was why, on 6 December 2017, the Minister had lodged an application for rescission of judgment.

The Minister said the Shareholders’ Compact was aimed at creating a balance between accountability and transparency in the management of the SABC, and it should be reviewed annually. She was waiting on the board of the SABC to finalise the corporate plan before she signed the Compact, although the chairperson of the SABC board had signed it. The Compact indicated that the board’s commitments included exercising strategic leadership, enterprise and integrity at the SABC, creating a financially sustainable entity, and ensuring compliance with best practice in all relevant policies.

Members asked about the about the timeframes for the MOI to be concluded; whether the Minister could indicate any possible foreseeable complications; how the Department would implement consequence management on non-performing entities; mechanisms that would be put in place to ensure that consequence management was implemented; more details on the finality of the Shareholder Compact; and the implementation of some of the pronouncements on the interventions of the boards in operational areas at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and entities.

The Department briefed Members on progress with the implementation of the Committee’s Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report recommendations to the Department, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), ICASA, the SABC, the Film and Publication Board (FPB) and Brand South Africa (BSA). These included increased support for small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development, performance management for ICASA Councillors, the removal of certain FPB managers, making broadcasting services available to people with disabilities, securing funding to resolve set-top box (STB) issues, filling staff vacancies, and paying suppliers within 30 days.

Lastly, the Department submitted a progress report on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations following an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal in June last year, which dealt mainly with issues involving community media in the province. Members felt that the report was too general as it lacked specificity on how the recommendations had been implemented. The Committee advised the Department to peruse the recommendations thoroughly, and said it would assist in providing direction on how it envisaged the Department should deal with them.

Meeting report

Conviction of ICASA Chairperson

After welcoming the Minister of Communications, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, and Members of the Committee, the Chairperson advised the meeting that the Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Mr Rubben Mohlaloga, had been convicted on charges of fraud and money laundering. Therefore, the Committee did not necessarily have to deliberate on the matter anymore, but did need to put it into finality. Yesterday, the Committee had released a statement to that effect. He clarified that when Mr Mohlaloga had been appointed by Parliament, the Committee was not aware of these allegations, and could certainly not project what would pan out.

Minister on SABC Memorandum of Incorporation

The Minister said that her team had completed separate documents for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) and shareholders’ compact, as well as the oversight report of the Committee. There were still challenges in dealing with the oversight report, particularly in addressing the issues that had been raised by the Committee. However, the Department would have to spend more time on addressing them. The MOI would be linked to the corporate plan so that the corporation was governed properly. However, there were delays on the SABC’s side, so she would not sign off on the MOI until the corporate plan had been finalised by the SABC Board. She assured the Committee that the Department was spending time on ensuring that the agencies were delivering on their mandates, and there was a realisation that there were legislative gaps that needed to be closed in order to achieve stability in its agencies and entities.

The Minister took the Members through the progress report and highlighted that in October 2017, the Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) had taken the Minister to court. According to the judgment, improper ministerial interference in the affairs of the SABC had been demonstrated in the report of the ad hoc committee on its inquiry into the fitness of the SABC board, which had found that the previous Minister of Communications had unlawfully interfered in the affairs of the board. The central issue in dispute was whether the powers vested in the Minister undermined the independence of the SABC and whether the Minister’s powers contravened section 12(11) of the Broadcasting Act, which provided that the SABC board must control the affairs of the SABC.

The issue in contention was that in 2014, the Minister of Communications had amended the MoI. The amendments to the MOI had given the Minister wide powers to appoint the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the SABC, and to veto any rule change proposed by the board relating to its governance. Whereas previously the board was required to appoint executives, the amended MOI provided that the powers to appoint and to discipline staff and members of the SABC management had been delegated to the GCEO, CFO and COO, and could be revoked only by the Minister of Communications. Currently there were two MOIs – the one that was signed in 2013 by the then Minister of Communications, Minister Carrim, which was filed with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), and the other signed by Minister Faith Muthambi in 2014, which had not been filed with the CIPC.

In terms of the legal standing, on 17 October 2017 the North Gauteng High Court had invalidated the provisions of the MOI which granted the Minister the power to appoint the executives of the SABC. It was later discovered that an incorrect MOI had been placed before the North Gauteng High Court. In other words, the North Gauteng High Court had relied on the MOI which was not filed. This was the MOI which gave the Minister wide powers. To correct this, on 6 December 2017 the Minister had lodged an application for rescission of judgment. In essence, the purpose of the rescission was to request the court to rescind the judgment because it was based on an incorrect MOI. The sub judice rule applied in this case, meaning that the matter was “under judicial consideration”. The principle lis pendens -- which literally means “pending suit” -- also applied here. In other words there was a pending legal suit concerning this matter. A date had not been set for the next court case.

As for the Department’s oversight role, the oversight function was heavily premised on the MOI. More strategic oversight would apply going forward, and due diligence would be followed. The relationship between the shareholder and the SABC was currently guided by the 2013 MOI until the necessary amendments were made by both the SABC board and the shareholder. Once an amended MOI was signed, it would be deposited with the court, the CIPC and the Portfolio Committee.

She then proceeded to the Shareholders’ Compact, as the two presentations were inter-linked.

Shareholders’ Compact

The Minister outlined the principles of the Shareholders’ Compact, which were:

  • To improve corporate governance between the Department and the SABC;
  • Premised on the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the Broadcasting Act, the Protocol on corporate governance and the Companies Act, and King IV;
  • To ensure strategic alignment between the entity and Department;
  • To ensure compliance with relevant policies;

She said the purpose of the Compact was coordinated through the approval of the corporate plan by the Minister. It was aimed at creating a balance between accountability and transparency in management of the SABC, and it should be reviewed annually.

The Shareholders’ Compact indicated that the board’s commitments were:

  • Exercising strategic leadership, enterprise and integrity to the SABC;
  • Creating a financially sustainable entity;
  • Reviewing the performance management of the executives;
  • Developing appropriate reporting mechanisms;
  • Ensuring compliance with best practice in all relevant policies;
  • Developing and implementing risk management and effective controls;
  • Quarterly meetings with the Minister on performance;
  • Overseeing compliance with the King IV report.

In addition, the Minister’s commitments were to hold quarterly engagements with the board on performance issues; an agreement on the framework and feedback mechanism to increase efficiency; not to introduce new or additional requirements that would impose a significant financial burden on the SABC; and to give the board sufficient notice of any proposed or new additional requirements to the corporate plan.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane indicated that the document was being resubmitted with amendments, as per discussions, and was now awaiting approval.

Discussion

Mr M Kalako (ANC) said that clearly the only valid MOI was the 2013 MOI under Minister Carrim’s tenure, so the one signed by Minister Mutambi should be disregarded. With the new approach alluded to by the new President on the role of boards of entities, how would the Department or the Committee spell out clearly in its documents the idea that boards should not get involved in the operations, procurement and supply chain management (SCM) of their entities? This had been the most challenging issue involving the boards of state-owned entities (SOEs) boards, so how had this been factored in to ensure that it did not happen? If there was any legislative, policy or regulatory amendments that the Department needed the Minister to effect, the Minister should submit or inform the Committee in time so that the issues could be dealt with expeditiously.

Ms N Tolashe (ANC) said she was impressed with the progress made thus far, and hoped the Minister would find time to check the implications of the new MOI before arriving at a conclusion. The Minister needed to be ‘pushy’ with the SABC, because the Committee could not accept delays anymore. She was well within schedule on her part, but now the SABC was delaying the process. This was a new board, so it needed to deliver.

Mr R Tseli (ANC) wanted to know about the timeframes set for the MOI to be concluded, and if the Minister could indicate any possible foreseeable complications. How would the Department deal with consequence management at non-performing entities as far as the Shareholder Compact was concerned? What mechanisms would be put in place by the Department of Communications (DoC) to ensure that there were consequences for non-performing officials?

Ms P van Damme (DA) asked for more details on the finality of the Shareholder Compact. How would the implementation of some of the pronouncements, such as the interventions of the boards at SOEs and entities in operational areas, be achieved? She expressed her appreciation with the progress and clarification provided on the two MOIs.

The Chairperson said that as the 2014 MOI had been declared invalid, Minister Muthambi had clearly been operating under an invalid MOI, and this could potentially damage the SABC.

Mr M Gungubele (ANC) asked the Minister how the performance relationship was being managed in the interim while the situation was being rectified.

Minister’s Response

The Minister said the Department was working from the MOI signed by Minister Carrim, because in applying its processes it recognised that it was a valid MOI, and the board was in agreement with this.

The pronouncements in the State Of the Nation Address (SONA) on the interference of boards in SOEs and entities needed to be perused. One of the triggers that the Department had recognised as an indication of interference, was the frequency of board meetings –this was a ‘red flag.’ The Department had therefore prescribed the frequency of meetings of the board in a year, and if it wished to meet beyond the prescribed number, it needed to make a request and submission to the Minister and follow due process. Thus far, none of the boards had submitted requests to meet outside the prescribed times, and had all agreed to the prescribed number of meetings. If boards met outside the prescribed number and claimed board fees, those monies would have to be paid back – this had been agreed upon by the board members as well. The Minister said she would ensure that this mechanism remained in an attempt to ensure that board members did not interfere with the operations of the entities. Board meetings would all be held on a quarterly basis.

She said the DoC attempted to meet regularly with the chairpersons of the boards to ensure that any potential issues were dealt with expeditiously. There were entities that were going to take time to turn around to the new strategy, but the Minister would ensure constantly that entities understood what needed to be done. She was also trying to minimise communications through letters, and rather encourage round table discussions with the boards to reduce any miscommunications.

She indicated that the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Act was very old and was not assisting the Agency in terms of what it sought to achieve. The Department would soon initiate a process that would start looking into effecting amendments to the MDDA Act. In addition, there would be amendments for the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) so that the Department could respond to the challenges of the digital era. These would be pronounced broadly and the time would be indicated to the Committee.

In regard to enforcing deadlines, these had already been communicated to the relevant entities and people concerned, and awareness had been raised that failure to do so would result in consequence management being applied effectively.

The timeframe for the MOI to be finalised had been set for the end of March. With regard to consequence management, the policy would be perused and updated accordingly, so that it could be included in the Shareholders’ Compact. Dealing with performance in the interim would be handled through quarterly meetings with the boards. The boards would submit quarterly reports which the Department would reflect on and produce a report to the Minister, and she would interrogate where there was non-performance.

She commented that it was important that boards heard not only from the Minister, but also from the Head of State, so that members understood that the Ministry was serious about eliminating poor governance in SOEs and entities.

The Chairperson said that the ICASA councillors’ performance had not yet been submitted to the Minister, and requested that the Minister ensure it was submitted and reported to Members.

Ms V van Wyk (DA) asked if Mr Mohlaloga was still receiving any financial benefits from ICASA. If so, this needed to be stopped because he had been disqualified as chairperson in accordance with the Act when he was charged for fraud and corruption.

The Minister responded that performance agreements still needed to be signed, because the Councillors had never signed the agreements, so no evaluations on their performance could be done. Once the agreements had been signed, only then could an assessment panel be established to focus on the evaluations and assessment of the Councillors. The Department was currently looking into assigning a judge to chair the panel, and it had spoken to the Department of Justice to assist in identifying an appropriate candidate.

With regards to Mr Mohlaoga’s financial benefits, she was awaiting the guidance of Parliament, because it was the appointing and dismissal authority, so she could not make any pronouncements on the issue -- Parliament had to deal with it.

Mr Gungubele asked if there were documented records of operations that could be given to the Committee so that Members could get a sense of what was really happening, particularly regarding the issue of performance agreements that were never signed. Working under those circumstances meant there was room for people to cheat, because the lack of those agreements was perpetuating such behaviour. The record he requested would assist Members to ascertain the state of affairs, and the action taken by the Minister under specific circumstances.

The Chairperson added that a unit or section that dealt with entity oversight was critical for the Department so that when the Committee interacted with the entities on oversight, Members were aware of what had been going on, and were able to focus on those areas during oversight visits.

The Minister responded that the entities were doing their best. She had written to them and alluded to a deadline. There was a system, but it was not perfect, and the Department was continuing to improve on it. She flagged that if there could be certainty of continuity of the entities as going concerns, issues such as the reduction in the turnover of staff and loos of skills would be erased. In addition, understanding the government cycle was a serious challenge to entities, so she appealed that when Parliament made appointments, it focused on these areas as well so that the right candidates or executives were appointed.

Progress in implementing recommendations of the BRRR and oversight visit

Mr Basani Baloyi, Acting Director-General: DoC, took Members through the Committee’s recommendations and the progress of the Department in respect of specific recommendations.

Amongst those that were presented, the Committee had recommended that the Department improve its support for small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development. So far, the Department had ensured that tenders that went out targeted SMMEs levels one to three (1 – 3) in terms of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE). The supply chain sourcing strategy was in place, which meant that when requesting quotation from the supplier database, only level 1-3 categories were invited to quote. This classification was provided by the National Treasury.

The Committee had recommended that the Department should present the performance management system of ICASA Councillors. In response, nominations for an evaluation panel had been published in the Government Gazette on 20 June 2016, the Sowetan newspaper, as well as on the website of the Department of Communications. Another advertisement had been published in the Gazette of 28 September 2017. The Departments of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Justice and Correctional Services had responded. Furthermore, the Minister had given the Council a deadline of December 2017 to sign the performance agreements, and the panel would be appointed in February 2018. The Minister would be engaging with the Council regarding consequence management emanating from non-compliance.

It had been recommended that ICASA and the Film and Publication Board (FPB) should present comprehensive reports to the Committee regarding the removal of senior managers. In response, both entities had presented to the Committee on 6 February 2018, and the matter had been referred back for further clarity and consequence management.

The Committee had also recommended that the Department must make broadcasting services available to people living with disabilities, particularly the deaf community. In response, the Department had indicated that ICASA had recently published a draft code for people with disabilities. The codes would be finalised by June 2018. In the meantime, the SABC currently complied with the provision of sub-titles and usage of spoken language for the deaf, and reported annually to ICASA on this. The Department had also met with the the working group on affordable and Accessible information communication technology (ICT) for persons with disabilities under the auspices of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) ICT Forum on 21 November 2017. The Department would be publishing the digital radio policy directive to address issues for the deaf, and this would be finalised by June 2018.

The Committee had recommended that the Department provide plans to mitigate the three million shortfall for South African households that could not afford to purchase set-top boxes (STBs). In response, the Department had indicated that a submission for additional funding had been made to National Treasury during the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) process, and it also planned to partner with the private sector.

The Committee had also recommended that the Department urgently fill all vacant funded positions in the Department and its entities. The filling of priority posts was currently in progress. 16 positions had been prioritised. Post levels 12 and below would be finalised by the end of February 2018. Levels 13 and above would be filled by 1 March 2018.

With regard to the SABC, one of the key recommendations of the Committee was to pay suppliers within 30 days. However, the SABC was still not in a position to honour all its financial commitments. It was engaging with the banks and had submitted a revised request for a government guarantee to National Treasury during November 2017. Feedback was still awaited on the matter. Upon securing funds, the SABC would comply with the 30 days’ payment to suppliers.

Tthe Minister had been urged to fast track the appointment of executives at the SABC. The progress so far was that both the GCEO and CFO positions had been advertised, with the closing date set for 14 February 2018. The COO vacancy had been filled on 1 February, and both the Chief Audit Executive and Group Executive: Radio posts had been filled on 1 December 2017. The remaining three posts were yet to be advertised.

Lastly, it had been recommended that the SABC must provide a report that quantified the financial impact an alcohol ban would have on the SABC. The SABC had commissioned a study, and a report would be presented to Parliament.

It was recommended that the FPB must attempt to reduce the use of consultants by ensuring skills transfer to its staff. In response, the FPB had trained in-house personnel on PASTEL and the maintenance of the business intelligence system, which was previously done by consultants. Secondly, the FPB had attended to the plight of DEAFSA with urgency. It had engaged with DEAFSA in the Western Cape in 6 February 2018 and had assisted in advocating for greater inclusivity of people with disabilities in the film and media industry. In addition, the FPB Child Protection Officer had received sign language training in January 2018, to enable better communication when engaging with deaf learners.

The Committee had recommended that Brand South Africa (BSA) should address the increased patterns of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. BSA had made progress in this regard, and there had been no fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the year under review. In addition, the entity had currently put additional controls in place to ensure that fruitless and wasteful expenditure could be prevented, detected and corrected.

Lastly, on the MDDA, the Committee had stated that it must provide a progress report on the appointment of the MDDA’s permanent executive members before the end of the financial year. A recruitment plan had been submitted, and positions would be filled by 1 April 2018 in terms of the plan. Interviews for the CEO were scheduled to take place on 15 February, which should enable the position to be filled by 1 April. Shortlisting for the positions of CFO and Director: Strategy was taking place in February, which should also enable positions to be filled by 1 April.

The Minister added that there had been an increase by ministers in different departments to make use of local radio stations. She also appealed to the Committee to improve on the number of women appointed to boards, as there were only two out of the 11 board members. She urged that a balance be achieved.

Discussion

Mr Gungubele said he was worried about the manner in which the recommendation dealing with support for SMMEs had been answered. He would have preferred it to have been responded to in a qualitative manner, not in a quantitative way, because during oversight visits the biggest problem was always the state in which SMMEs were operating.

Mr Tseli added to Mr Gungubele’s point, and asked for a comprehensive report detailing what had been done to assist in developing SMMEs. He suggested that going forward, that needed to be taken into account. Secondly, he suggested that the Department should start looking into under-spending very closely, because entities often complained about the lack of resources but failed to fully utilise the allocated resources, while some targets had not been achieved.

Regarding international trips, it was important for the Department to indicate not only what they were, but to indicate the value for money derived from them.

With regard to the empowerment of women and people with disabilities, the attitude of the Committee when the recommendation was made was to look at how the entities were attending to these matters. He suggested that the Department furnish the Committee with a detailed report on what had been achieved since previous engagements, and to quantify the number of departments that had advertised posts for women and people living with disabilities, as well as those that had failed to so. On moratorium licences, Members were really monitoring ICASA to ensure that this area was attended to. Members also need a real state of affairs report on the MDDA’s complaints.

Ms Van Wyk wanted to know about the delegation of responsibility of the Deputy Minister, and confirmation whether she was indeed in charge of the MDDA. In 2016/17, there had been recommendations made regarding the compliance of municipalities to advertise on local radios, and it was clear that these local platforms were not receiving the funds for advertisements. Last year, it was found that the DoC had spent only R1.3 million on community media of the R11 million budgeted. A detailed report on this needed to be provided by the Department. Lastly, she indicated that the moratorium on local community radio could not be an on-going issue, because it was very critical in skills development, and asked about the action plan to mitigate the issue.

Mr L Mbinda (PAC) referred to the appointment of the GCEO of the SABC, and said the presentation indicated that the other appointments -- group executive: news and current affairs, human resources -- would be made before the incumbent. He would have expected the GCEO appointment be prioritised, so that he/she could participate in the processes of those appointments.

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said that ICASA had talked about the draft code for people with disabilities. This had been there for years, and she encouraged the Department to push ICASA to implement it. Secondly, the use of sign language needed to be corrected and implemented on television channels. Thirdly, deaf people could not hear the radio, so what was meant by publishing issues affecting deaf people through radio – this would be a fruitless exercise, because the targeted people would not have access to the information.

She asked the Department to provide a copy of the report on progress made to cater for and improve employment conditions for people living with disabilities. With regard to employment equity, it was desirable to keep the number of employment opportunities for people living with disabilities above 2%. She wanted to know whether the Department had looked into the reasons why the numbers were declining.

Deaf people had been watching what had been happening for the past two years, and to this day there were instances where deaf people were excluded from the population catered for, due to the lack of sub-titles. Sub-titles were also an important tool for children to develop literacy. The Department should lobby the SABC to ensure that deaf people had access to news, especially important issues.

Minister’s REsponse

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane responded that SMME development fell under the mandate of the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), so the DoC could only strengthen its participatory footprint and extend its support. If the budget was not limited, the Department would be able to do more. Furthermore, the DoC had a staff compliment of just about 100 people, with only just two posts that were funded, so it could not take on certain responsibilities. However, it had to be acknowledged that it was doing much with its limited resources.

With regards to consequence management, mechanisms had been put in place. However, the objective was to bring on board all the colleagues from entities to agree on the mechanisms in order to avoid straining relations.

As for the international trips, the Department had been requested only to list the trips it undertook, and Members could rest assured that there was definitely value for money in all the trips undertaken.

In response to the ICT question, she indicated that there was convergence and partnership with the Department of Telecommunications. In addition, the Department had agreed with the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) to compile a comprehensive report on the participation of the ministers in the media, particularly on community radio and in print. A report detailing the ICT convergence and the status of participation by ministers, as well as information on women and people living with disabilities, would be furnished to the Committee.

The delegation between the Minister and the Deputy Minister in the Department had been reviewed. As a result, the responsibilities were shared between Parliament and other commitments, such as Cabinet meetings. Since the Deputy Minister had started at the DoC, she had done a lot of work on community platforms, and there was a platform in the GCIS where engagement with various community radio stations across the country was held. She confirmed that the Deputy Minister did provide oversight over the MDDA.

She informed Members that there were challenges at community radio stations which applied for licences, but later turned into commercial stations. Some even refused to pay Sentech. There was also provision of equipment, but there were often instances of mismanagement. There was therefore a need to amend the MDDA Act, to curb these issues.

In addition to supporting SMMEs, the Minister had engaged the Minister of Small Business Development to partner through some of the programmes initiated by the DoC.

Regarding catering for deaf people, she had engaged with the SABC to try and improve on the issue of sub-titles. She had requested a meeting with all the broadcasters to ensure that access to information was provided across different channels for deaf people. An audio-visual policy was currently being developed to ensure that people living with disabilities were catered for so that it became a policy that everyone had no choice but to adhere to. This had been on-going, and the Department had involved Deaf SA.

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) said she had received an important message from Egugulethu radio station. In 2015, Minister Mutambi had gone to Gugulethu for a short period between May and June, and people had requested a radio station. The Minister had referred the matter to the MDDA for implementation, but down the line when everything was supposed to be in place, the chairperson of the MDDA had been supposed to play a key role in ensuring that the request was implemented. When the Cabinet was reshuffled, however, the Deputy Minister of Communications had stopped that process immediately without communicating reasons why. It seemed that the problem was between the chairperson of the MDDA and the Deputy Minister. She had wanted to direct this message to the Minister and engage the Deputy Minister on what had occurred, but unfortunately the Minister had already excused herself, so she suggested that the Minister should visit the community to engage them on this issue. She emphasised that this radio station was for the benefit of the community, so it should not be stopped.

Mr Baloyi responded to Ms Matshoba’s issue, saying that it was the DoC’s responsibility to check up on such processes to ascertain what had happened and implement interventions on how the matter could be addressed.

On the MDDA, the Department could look into the matter and prepare a report on the state of its affairs and report back to the Committee. There was a need to look at the moratorium on the radio stations, and how the matter could be brought to finality. As for the budget, a breakdown could be provided on what had been spent since the beginning of last year, and the Committee could provide recommendations on how those issues could be best dealt with.

Mr Tseli said that the reason there had been a recommendation on the moratorium was because there were community radio stations that were very close to each other, which made it difficult to support those that had started.

The Chairperson closed the discussion due to time constraints. He asked the Acting Director-General to go quickly through the progress report on the oversight visit of the Committee.

Progress report on oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal

Mr Baloyi took the Members through the progress report of the Portfolio Committee on its oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal on 27 to 29 June 2017.

It had recommended that the EzaKwaZulu-News project should expedite the issue of the company’s registration, and this was in progress. Members had recommended that the EzaKwaZulu-News must continue to engage with youth and expose them to mainstream media, and this had been achieved.

Nqubeko FM had been advised to expedite the employment of a qualified accountant, because the individual could assist in consolidating the funds of the station in order to ease some of its burdens, such as stipends and transport for the news staff. The progress made thus far indicated that the station had appointed the Virgil Account to take care of the station’s books, save money and to provide good counsel on the most tax-efficient way of running the station. In addition, Nqubeko FM should follow-up with the Department of Health to try to recoup the money owed to the station. The station was currently off air and had been evicted from the municipal offices due to non-payment of rental. The Acting CEO was meeting the municipality and Nqubeko FM on 22 February to find ways to resolve the situation.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that KZN-TV had raised an issue during the oversight visit which had not been highlighted in the progress report, and how the Department had addressed it. Furthermore, there were other radio stations that had raised issues, but no progress had been made by the Department in addressing them. Nothing of substance had been presented by the Department.

Ms Tolashe said that the report was general, and had not outlined the issues that the Committee had raised. Therefore, this document could not assist the Committee in responding to the issues presented by Mr Baloyi in the document. Some responses did not have timelines, and there was nothing that specifically talked to the issues of governance. She suggested that the Department was not doing enough to assist Qhubeko radio station, which was facing significant issues. The Department should go back and peruse the report issued by the Committee, and respond appropriately to the issues that it had raised.

The Chairperson concurred with Ms Tolashe that the report was general. He requested the Department to compile a specific report, but the Committee had to assist them in respect of where it required responses. Although this was the Department’s responsibility, he urged Members to take this into account.

Ms Van Wyk asked for a report on what had been done for community media with the digital migration process. She also asked for feedback on the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP).

Due to time constraints, the Chairperson encouraged Members to write to the Department if there were any outstanding questions they wished to ask.

Adoption of Film and Publication Amendment Bill Report

The report was adopted without amendment.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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