The SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa warmly welcome the news of the appointment of new SABC COO Chris Maroleng, subject to final security vetting processes. We stand behind the board in making critical appointments provided they adhere to the principle of finding the best people for the job, with suitable experience and capabilities. One of the most important tasks for the SABC Board is to stabilise the SABC and ensure quality people are appointed that can do their job, as well as to ensure a world-class public broadcaster.
We note with concern the Minister’s statement that alleges that the SABC’s CEO, COO and CFO appointments are to be made by government through cabinet processes. The SABC is not an ordinary SOE, this fact was highlighted in recent court rulings.
We would like to remind the minister of the 17 October 2017 High Court Judgment by Judge J. Matojane, that confirmed the SABC Board’s right to make the three executive appointments independently, after consultation with the Minister but without Ministerial veto.
It is important to note the distinction made in the interim order. The distinction is between “in consultation” and “after consultation”. In the first, it means there must be concurrence. In other words, an appointment “in consultation” means the Minister and the SABC Board would have to agree to the appointment. In the current instance, however, it is “after consultation.” In other words, the SABC Board must consult the Minister and give her an opportunity to give her views and/or concerns, but it is not necessary for her to agree with the SABC Board in order for them to make the appointment.
Furthermore, we would also like to bring to the Minister’s memory, the6 December 2017 Interim Court order between the Minister’s counsel and applicants’ counsel, to which all parties agreed that abide by an independent appointments process until the appeal by the Minister is heard.
The Interim Order states that:
1. The executive members of the SABC Board are to be appointed by the non-executive members of the SABC Board.
1.2. The Minister of Communications will have no right to veto a decision of the Board regarding the permanent or interim appointment of an executive member of the SABC Board.
1.3 The Board will make any permanent or interim appointment of an executive member as envisaged in paragraph 1.1 above only after consultation with the Minister of Communications, with the phrase “after consultation” to have the meaning set out in the matter of Premier, Western Cape v President of the Republic of South Africa 1999 (3) SA 657 (CC) at para 85.
The interim order, therefore, allows the SABC Board to go ahead and make Crucial appointments, after consultation with the minister while at the same time protecting the independence of the SABC.
We wish Mr Maroleng all the best as he takes on the task of leading the turning around and rebuilding of South Africa’s public broadcaster.