Johannesburg-Friday, 8 April 2022-The SABC Board has adopted the Report of the Special Committee tasked with investigating allegations by former Group Executive: News and Current Affairs (former GE), against the SABC Board Chairperson (Chairperson). The Special Committee:
(i) found the allegations to be unsubstantiated;
(ii) has not found anything indicating that the former GE’s power to make a final decision in regard to editorial decisions was threatened, usurped or compromised in any way; and
(iii) concluded that the Chairperson’s actions in the matter do not constitute misconduct as envisaged in the Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999.
The SABC Board is of the view that the elements of the Report include content that is private and confidential, particularly as it contains private and personal information of and about third parties.
The SABC Board understands that this matter has attracted significant public interest and deems it important to publish the recommendations of the Special Committee Report that will assist in improving the SABC’s Editorial Policies. The recommendations include the following:
· To avoid any form of editorial problems arising from any relationship between SABC employees and SABC Board member/s, all SABC Board members need to be cautioned about the sensitivities around editorial independence and the manner in which they engage with SABC employees about editorial issues outside SABC Board processes and procedures. SABC Board members should be sensitised and cautioned about engaging with SABC News staff on issues that are editorial in nature. If it is necessary for a Board member – in his or her capacity as a Board member – to engage with SABC employees, such engagement should be done transparently and with the knowledge of the SABC Board.
· The SABC needs to consider developing a clear policy or guidelines that deal with how SABC Board members should engage with SABC News in regard to editorial matters outside formal SABC processes. This will assist in ensuring that engagements between a Board member (regardless of the capacity in which the engagement is made) and SABC journalists and editors in matters that are editorial in nature are not per se regarded as interference or breach of the Editorial Policy. Notwithstanding the aforegoing, SABC News editors and journalists need to strictly apply the SABC Editorial Policy regardless of who is involved. When engaging Board Members and/or any party regarding editorial issues, editors should be guided by the SABC Editorial Policy and related governance procedures and not the relationship between the editor and the person involved in the matter. Importantly, journalistic sources (whoever they may be) should not be compromised. It is established journalistic ethics to preclude divulging a source without the source’s express consent, save if the source falsified information.
· The SABC News employees need to be reminded of their obligations in terms of the Editorial Policy and be encouraged to report any breach of the Editorial Policy without any delay.
The Report also notes that the allegations against the Chairperson cannot in any way be compared to what transpired during the period that was investigated by the Commission of Inquiry (led by Ntate Joe Thloloe) into Interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the SABC. During that period between 2012–2017, the SABC Newsroom took instructions and succumbed to instructions from those who had no authority in regard to editorial decisions because of threats of dismissal. The Special Committee was not furnished with any information showing that Chairperson threatened, or even bullied, the former GE. The Special Committee found that, if anything, the former GE and Chairperson enjoyed a cordial relationship.
Both the former GE and the Chairperson have been furnished with the Report and the SABC Board considers the matter closed.
Media Enquiries: Ms. Gugu Ntuli (Group Executive: Corporate Affairs and Marketing)