After the recent resignations of two of the South African broadcaster’s board members, Parliament has now requested the dismissal of the remaining representatives.

Earlier this October, two members of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) board, Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso, resigned during a parliamentary meeting. According to them, the board was unable operate as it should and the recent conduct of SABC was not respecting the terms stated in the Broadcasting Act.

“I have come to the conclusion that this board is dysfunctional. It should be scrapped and personally I would be resigning today as a board member,” said Naidoo. Mavuso echoed his opinions when handing his resignation during the same meeting. The country’s President, Jacob Zuma, approved their requests but now the Parliament might ask him to dismiss the remaining members of the board if they do not resign voluntarily.

However, the remaining board members have not accepted the resignations requests, and are still consulting with their lawyers to investigate the validity of the appeal.

Over past few months, SABC balance has been overthrown amid censorship allegations, such as the ban to cover violent protests in the country, journalists being fired, and tight control over news production.

After this turmoil, MPs argued that SABC was actually failing to fulfil its duties and thus launched an inquiry into the fitness of the board. On Wednesday, a committee set up by the parliament will begin to investigate whether the current SABC board members can hold their post in light of the most recent events and in reference to the Broadcasting Act. The act can indeed allow the National Assembly to make recommendations to dismiss SABC’s board members, but can only do so on particular and specific occasions, including when the board is not fulfilling its duties as it should.

The inquiry will look at the financial status and sustainability of the SABC, the recent court judgements and SABC conduct over the past few months. In addition, it will look into the board’s current ability to operate because, due to lack of insufficient members, the board cannot reach quorum and thus cannot actually take any legally binding decisions at the moment.

The Director of the Centre for Constitutional rights, Phephelaphi Dube, praised the responsiveness of the Parliament.

“…the unity displayed by the members of Parliament from different political parties serving on the committee is commendable. It serves, to some extent, as a reassurance that in a time where the future of our democracy is challenged daily, the rule of law and the Constitution cannot be,” he said.

Header Image: SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town. Image: Zaian/All Creative Commons