SABC: New board appointed after 6 month delay

28th April 2023
South Africa’s President has finally appointed 12 individuals to the new board of the SABC, six months after the old board disbanded.
SABC-branded satellite against a blue sky.
Johannesburg, South Africa - January 30 2019: SABC Radio park tree. Credit: Dylan Barnes /

After a six month delay, the South African government finally appointed a new board of non-executive members for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  President Ramaphosa announced the new leadership structure of 12 members on 18th April with Mr Khathutshelo Ramukumba as Chairperson and Ms Nomvuyiso Batyi as the Deputy Chairperson of the SABC Board. 

The newly appointed board, which has a five-year term, includes the former Head of News at SABC, Phathiswa Magopeni, as well as other former staff, Dr. Renee Horne and Mr Mpho Tsedu. “The SABC is a vital institution of our constitutional democracy. I trust the newly appointed board members will work hard at ensuring that South Africa continues to benefit from a stable, independent and effective national public broadcaster,” said the President.   

The SABC had been operating without a board since the previous board term ended in October 2022. The government was criticised for delaying the appointment of new members with some organisations taking the President to Constitutional Court. Some of the delays were due to the candidate vetting process and confusion over the submission of 15 candidates when only 12 positions are available. The inclusion of the former SABC Head of News Ms. Magopeni on the list of board candidates also contributed to the setbacks

Listen toour podcast

Uncovering and exploring the biggest
issues facing public media

The Public Media Alliance has summarised reaction to the appointment from the major stakeholders: 

Democratic Alliance: “Massive mountain to climb”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) – an opposition party welcomed the long-overdue appointment of the board and stated, “The whole country knows that the delay was caused by the President and former Minister’s dislike of a single candidate, Phathiswa Magopeni. As a result, the DA particularly welcomes her appointment. We trust she will do an exemplary job after her shoddy treatment by the ANC. No doubt, many of those higher up in the ANC will be licking their wounds this afternoon. The Board has a massive mountain to climb, with debts increasing exponentially, and the contracts of the CEO, COO and CFO due to expire in just over a month. The DA wishes them luck in their future endeavours, and hopes they manage to turn this loss-leader into the public broadcaster it is supposed to be.” 

The Congress of the People: “sleeping on his job”

The Congress of the People (COPE) – a social democratic party – welcomed the newly appointed board but also criticised such long delays. COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, “President Cyril Ramaphosa is clearly not serious in doing his job. It took six months to appoint the SABC Board. But it is not only President Ramaphosa that is sleeping on his job. Parliament are equally guilty in not doing their job. The Communications Parliamentary Portfolio Committee failed the country by not keeping the Executive and the President accountable. We want to applaud civil society and all the organisations who have put pressure on President Ramaphosa to appoint the new SABC Board. COPE wants to congratulate the new board and wishes them well.” 

SOS Coalition: “integrity is important”

A civil society organisation, The SOS Coalition although supported the structure of the new SABC board were opposed to some of the members appointed. Uyanda Siyotula, SOS Coalition national coordinator, explained that the organisation stood by its objections against the appointments of Dinkwanyane Mohuba, Mpho Tsedu and deputy, Nomvuyiso Batyi.  SOS highlighted concerns regarding conflict of interests that could occur if Tsedu and Batyi continued the board of members due to their existing careers. Tsedu advises to the deputy minister in the department of communications and digital technologies as an advisor to the deputy minister and Batyi is CEO of the Association of Communications and Technology. “We believe integrity is important for members of the board. We don’t think he qualifies to join the SABC board because of this scandal. “This is important because the SABC is in a financial crisis,” said Ms. Siyotula.  

Media Monitoring Africa: “Strong candidates and mixed expertise”

Media watchdog Media Monitoring Africa showed support for the appointed members of the board. Director William Bird said, “I think there are some strong candidates and mixed expertise. The proof will be in how they work as a board and if they assert their independence and work to strengthen the credibility of the SABC. Their key issue is to bring financial stability but not at the expense of the public mandate.” Mr. Bird further bemoaned the amount of outstanding work the board would have to deal with, during an interview with private TV station eNews Channel Africa. “Six months that SABC has had to go on a completely engineered crisis and what remains to be seen is just how the board is able to perform under close to impossible conditions – comply with management act, work out what’s been going on with the board, deal with a handover report that’s 6 months old, the traumas of load shedding and deal with the coming issues such as analogue switch off.”