Election of Chairperson; Communications BRRR; Committee Programme

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Communications and Digital Technologies

06 November 2018
Chairperson: Dr H Mkhize (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Available here once published: 2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The Committee elected a new chairperson.

Members also considered and adopted (with amendments) the Communications Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR).

During their deliberations, Members suggested that the forensic investigation into the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) be added as a recommendations to the report and that the SABC conducts and additional audit and present it to the Committee before it retrenches any staff.

The Committee noted that it has planned to undertake a study tour in December – to investigate the funding model of the SABC - but the expected host country is unable to receive the Committee at that time. The parliamentary staff was urged to find an alternative country for the Committee to visit.

The Committee agreed to set aside 20 November 2018 to interview candidates for the four vacant positions on the SABC board.

Meeting report

Meeting report

Election of Chairperson

The outgoing chairperson called for nominations for a new chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

Mr M Kalako (ANC) nominated Dr H Mkhize (ANC) to be the next chairperson of the committee.

Mr N Xaba (ANC) seconded the nomination.

As no further nominations were made, Dr Mkhize was duly elected as the chairperson of the committee.

In her acceptance remarks, the incoming chairperson thanked the Committee for the confidence placed in her and hoped to learn a lot from the members about this Committee. She called for a unity of purpose irrespective of political affiliations. She added that the communications portfolio is directly linked to the country’s aspirations, which is to ensure that no South African is left behind and has access to knowledge which in itself is linked to service delivery.

Communications Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)

The Committee reviewed the document page-by-page and Members were invited to give input.

Ms P Van Damme (DA) referred to the recommendation that there should be a comparative study of other broadcasters in terms of a suitable funding model for the SABC. This was a recommendation of the Committee as part of its inquiry into the SABC and the committee was required to carry out this study by itself which it is yet to undertake. The Committee was supposed to undertake a study tour in December but the expected host is unable to receive the Committee at that time. That host is not the only country that has a public broadcaster; there are other countries such as Germany and others that have both public and private broadcasters. Before the completion of the Fifth Parliament, it is important that the Committee embark on this study tour. Through the new chairperson, could the secretariat still keep the date that was previously chosen and recommend a different country that could host this Committee? Another recommendation to be added is the issue of retrenchment which has not been discussed by the committee. As an additional recommendation, the Committee should ask the SABC to conduct additional audit and present it to this Committee before they retrench any staff. She recalled in 2013 PwC conducted an audit for the SABC and advised it on the general health of the corporation including the skills needed. This Committee cannot agree to retrenchment without knowing what the details are.

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) added that the Committee had indicated that it would want a forensic investigation into the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) when it was discovered that corruption was taking place in that agency. There is no reflection of that in the report. A lot of work was done on this issue and clarity is therefore demanded by this Committee.  

Mr Kalako reminded the Committee that the last interaction it had with SABC was when it came to inform the Committee that it intends using Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act and the Committee gave it a lot of suggestions on how to handle the issue.  The Committee will have to call the SABC back to Parliament with a focus on retrenchment. The Committee needs to be briefed on the public broadcaster’s plans. The Content Adviser should add the issue of forensic investigations.

Mr R Tseli (ANC) asked that the numbering on observations be rectified and the inclusion of some key recommendations made by the Committee in 2017/18 that were not implemented be added. The Minister must facilitate engagements with other organs of state to review the current funding mechanisms of the SABC. A strong recommendation should be made on the current news regarding SABC retrenchments reiterating that the Committee is strongly opposed it. The board and the Department must find ways to deal with these challenges being faced by the SABC and not use retrenchments as the ultimate solution but as a last resort. 

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) welcomed the newly elected chairperson to the Committee and added that the study tour must be embarked upon in December on the date already agreed even if it is in another country.

The Chairperson thanked Members for the snap debate and promised that the technical team will clean up the report to reflect all the changes suggested by Members.  She promised to ask for a comprehensive briefing on the study tour. The SABC was directed to appear before the Committee on 13 November 2018 to deal specifically with issue of retrenchments.

The BRRR report was adopted with amendments.

4th Term Committee Programme

The committee’s 4th term programme was adjusted as follows;

13 November 2018- Briefing by the SABC Board and the Minister to be represented on that day

20 November 2018- Holding of interviews for four vacant positions in the SABC Board

27 November 2018- Adoption of report recommending candidates for SABC Board appointments & Briefing by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on progress made in relation to the investigations at the SABC.

4 December 2018- Briefing by Government Communication and Information System on its programme of action to curb Gender based Violence was removed because the proposed study tour abroad in December.

The meeting was adjourned.

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