Candidates recommended for
SABC Board

29 November 2022
12 names have been recommended by the Communications ministry to serve on the incoming Board of South Africa’s public broadcaster. Plus, an “important milestone” reached as SABC launches new streaming platform.
South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) Television Park in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. It offers television facilities. Credit: THEGIFT777/iStock

The subcommittee of the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies finalised its list of 12 recommended candidates to serve on the SABC Board, more than a month after the previous Board’s five-year tenure ended on 15 October.

The meeting to deliberate and recommend names to the full Communications committee to be considered for the 12 non-executive Board members of the SABC took place on Thursday. One of the named candidates is SABC’s former Head of News, Phathiswa Magopeni, who was dismissed from the organisation earlier this year found guilty of misconduct for violating a court order after she failed to appropriately prevent the broadcast of an indicted episode of an investigative programme. Other candidates include veteran journalists, a communications specialist and a former SABC Board member.

Read more: SABC Head of News dismissed

The recommendations come after the State Security Agency (SSA) completed its vetting process of 34 candidates and forwarded the final list to the full Communications committee. But there have been increased concerns among civil society groups that the delay could potentially destabilise the public broadcaster and stall its turnaround strategy, if the organisation continued to operate without full governance and oversight. Some groups were led to believe that political tricks might have been at play, which Boyce Maneli, chair of the Communications committee, denied. The National Assembly must approve the committee’s recommendations before the final decision is made by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the appointing authority.

It’s not the first time that SABC Board appointments have experienced delays. Previous Board appointments were delayed for several months in 2019, with the Portfolio Committee on Communications putting it down to a lack of female applicants. The gender ratio for this incoming Board is balanced, with six female and six male candidates.

The Board nominations were announced a week after the public broadcaster launched its ”long-anticipated” streaming platform, SABC+.

In partnership with global consumer electronics and home appliances group, Hisense, the Over-the-top (OTT) streaming platform will provide 19 radio stations, three free-to-air television channels, the SABC Sports Channel, and the 24-hour news channel for free. According to the public broadcaster, the SABC+ app will also “feature a variety of local and international content, to extend the Corporation’s mission to inform, educate and entertain citizen[s], everywhere, anytime.”

At the launch event, SABC’s Chief Executive Officer, Madoda Mxakwe, described the platform launch as an “important milestone” for the public broadcaster. “At the heart of this is to ensure that the SABC can compete favourably and be relevant in the market space. But very key also is the principle of universal access because SABC content will now be everywhere, anywhere for everyone.” He also emphasised the SABC’s progress towards a “multi-platform, multi-device content provider”, as it migrates to digital, enabling it to grow audiences and increase revenue generation for the organisation.

“At the heart of this is to ensure that the SABC can compete favourably and be relevant in the market space. But very key also is the principle of universal access because SABC content will now be everywhere, anywhere for everyone.” – Madoda Mxakwe, Chief Executive Officer, SABC

“As SOS we are happy that this long overdue OTT platform launch is finally happening – it’s about time that the SABC competes in digital spaces,” Uyanda Siyotula, Support Public Broadcasting Coalition’s National Coordinator, told PMA. “The great thing about it is the SABC gets to restore lost audiences, increase revenue.”

Broadcast Media Africa reported that SABC had invested more than one billion rand in the last fiscal year on new productions for use on its new streaming platform.

There is still no date for South Africa’s Digital Switchover (DSO), and groups are still awaiting the Communications Minister’s announcement on the public consultation process.

The Public Media Alliance is pleased that more progress is being made with the SABC’s Board appointments. As the body that is tasked with the vital job of overseeing the public broadcaster’s independence and operation, it is important that the Board is balanced and consists of expertise in broadcasting and communications, and can support the SABC to secure its future financial sustainability and further its digitalisation plans. With the 2024 General Election approaching, it is even more important that the public broadcaster is free from political interference and can provide audiences with the information they need, on the platforms they use, to make informed decisions.