The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday said it “noted with concern” that the newly appointed South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board chairperson and his deputy were  President Jacob Zuma’s close allies.

Reacting to Zuma appointments, DA national spokesperson and member of parliament, Phumzile van Damme, said: “The DA notes with grave concern the appointment of SABC board Chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini and Deputy Chairperson Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, who are close allies to President Zuma and his family. This comes after President Zuma has been in possession of the recommended candidates for over a month”.

She said the SABC interim board’s term of office came to an end on 26 September 2017 and the embattled entity has been without a board since.

“Despite the appointments finally being made, the DA has some concerns regarding the suitability and impartiality of the chairperson and deputy chairperson appointed by the President,” said Van Damme.

“The chairman, Bongumusa Makhathini, is also the chairman of a foundation run by one of President Zuma’s wives, Bongi Ngema-Zuma. His proximity to the Zuma family is a concern.

“The Deputy Chairperson Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, has been a close ally and adviser to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with strong political ties to the ANC [African National Congress]. During the interviews, she even admitted that there is a possibility that she would resign from the SABC Board if she is elected to the ANC NEC [National Executive Committee].”

Van Damme said it was “obvious that the President willfully delayed” the appointment the permanent SABC board because he wanted certain individuals on the board to serve his own interests and not those of South Africans.

She said the SABC needs individuals who will carry out its mandate, act within the prescripts of the Broadcasting Act and not bow to political pressure.

“We further note that Nomvuyiso Batyi withdrew her application. The Portfolio Committee on Communications has agreed to deliberate on the pool of candidates from the last interviews to find a suitable replacement,” said Van Damme.

“It is reassuring that here are some very qualified and suitable individuals on the board and we wish them well all during their tenure. We will be keeping a hawk’s eye on the board’s work.

“It is now up to them to stand up against corruption and political interference.The DA remains committed to ensuring that the SABC is not re-captured by individuals who don’t have South Africans’ interests at heart.”

The other members of the new SABC board include Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama, John Matisonn, Mathatha Tsedu, Rachel Kalidass, Michael Markovitz, Bongumusa Makhathini, Victor Rambau, Dinkwanyane Mohuba and Jack Phalane.

African News Agency