Broadcasting Amendment Bill: SABC submission

NCOP Public Enterprises and Communication

10 September 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

Legal representatives, representing the SABC, briefed the Committee on its stance on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. The SABC opposed the proposed amendments, as it was in violation of the Constitution that guaranteed the separation of powers. They argued that the Bill had been formulated in isolation, without consulting existing statutes that dealt with the removal of directors, such as the Companies Act and the proposed Companies Bill.

Members noted that they could not deliberate on the submission as they did not have quorum, but it might be discussed at a meeting during the Pepole’s Assembly in Mpumalanga the following week.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson said that from what she could gather from the submissions made the previous day, it would seem that not all interested parties had been against the amendments. The Select Committee would look at these proposals and apply their minds.

She added that the Bill was not merely about the appointment and dismissal of the SABC Board, but about several other issues as well. The Committee would not be able to deliberate on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill as there were not enough Members present, due to the oversight visit to the Eastern Cape. An opportunity would be given to the SABC representatives to present their submission as they had arrived late the previous day.

Ms Themba noted that deliberations on the Bill might take place at the People’s Assembly in Mpumalanga the following week, provided that all Members were present, as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) did not have many Members and they had to serve on several NCOP Committees.

SABC submission
Adv M Denrance, Legal Representative: SABC, said that the Broadcasting Amendment Bill dealt with two issues, the appointment of the SABC Board and the removal of the SABC Board. The SABC had been of the opinion that the proposed amendments were not aligned with the Constitution as it impeded on the powers of the Executive (the President) that was ultimately responsible for the appointment of the SABC Board. The provision that compelled the President to consult the Speaker (Legislative Authority) was thus unconstitutional as it violated the tenet of the Separation of Powers enshrined in the Constitution.

He noted that although the provisions that related to the removal of the SABC Board had been well conceived, it had been drafted in isolation, without looking at the “sister” Acts that provided the policy directives for such a decision. Section 220 of the Companies Act and the Companies Bill both prescribed the procedure that had to followed when shareholders wanted to remove a director. The SABC was of the opinion that the Companies Act should be the sole legislative instrument that should govern the removal of directors from a Board and that it was undesirable to have two Acts that regulated the same issue, that is, the removal of directors. The suspension of the SABC CEO, Dali Mpfo, was thus unconstitutional as he was both an employee and a director of the SABC. Adv Denrance proposed that a separate clause that dealt specifically with those directors that served on the boards of parastatals be inserted into the Companies Bill, to achieve uniformity.

Discussion
Ms Themba asked if the SABC had made the same submission to the Portfolio Committee on Communications as the Select Committee had instructed presenters not to submit the same submissions to them.

Mr R Serobe, Legal Representative: SABC, replied that the submission made to the Portfolio Committee dealt specifically with the constitutionality of the proposed amendments and that the reference to the various statutes had been specifically included for the Select Committee.

Mr Z Kolweni (ANC, North-West) said that he wanted to ask the same question as Ms Themba and added that the submission by the SABC would be reviewed, but that the other Members would have to be consulted.

Mr D Gamede (ANC, Kwazulu-Natal) said that he agreed with Mr Kolweni and that the ball was in the NCOP’s court to apply their minds and respond accordingly.

Ms Themba added that the Committee would deliberate on the information provided by the SABC, but that no miracles should be expected.

The Chair adjourned the meeting.

Present

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