A Broadcasting Amendment Bill secretly being pushed through parliament by the ruling ANC government has been created to turn the SABC back into the Apartheid era state broadcaster it was before 1994.
The shocking Broadcasting Amendment Bill will change the Broadcasting Act, giving absolute control to South Africa's minister of communications to hire and fire SABC board members and the chairperson and will reduce the number of SABC board members.
The change will make the South African Broadcasting Corporation even more insulated and unaccountable to parliament or to the people of South Africa and instead only accountable and controlled by the South African president through proxy of the communication minister.
The shocking plan to hijack the SABC and to turn it into a state broadcaster comes from the controversial minister of communications, Faith Muthambi who has already overreached by directly intervening and firing SABC board members and now wants to place the SABC back under total state control which it was during Apartheid when it was a blatant National Party mouthpiece.
If approved and signed into law, the Broadcasting Amendment Bill will give the minister of communications in South Africa, in this case the highly unpopular Faith Muthambi, sole and total control over who to appoint, and when to fire, SABC board members.
It is exactly what she has been doing this year using the thinly-veiled disguise and excuse of decimating the board saying she's doing so under the Companies Act because the SABC is a "state-owned entity".
The unstable SABC has been lurching from crisis to crisis with acrimonious in-fighting and instability on SABC board level as well as within its top-executive ranks, with the SABC and the government struggling to fill top-executive positions, SABC board member positions still vacant for months, as well as the position of the SABC chairperson.
Instead of a democratic process, Faith Muthambi wants to unilaterally take over the process since it's become too difficult to constantly replenish empty SABC board and SABC executive positions when people quit, are fired and leave in shame when they're exposed as having lied about qualifications like the disgraced former SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill,if passed will drastically reduce the SABC board members from 12 to just 9.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill also seeks to reduce the quorum for voting on decisions from 9 to 7.
The president of the country, through the minister of communications will now appoint the few SABC board members that there will be instead of parliament.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill also seeks to give the president and minister of communications the right to appoint an "interim SABC board" at will.
The Bill also specifies a new easier and much more unaccountable way for the re-appointment, firing and resignation of SABC board members.
Oversight of the SABC as a public broadcaster is reduced and taken away and the SABC is turned into a state broadcaster under control of the ruling president and that person's serving minister of communications.
The public pressure group for public broadcasting, the SOS Coalition says it will go to the Constitutional Court to challenge the shocking Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
"We are appalled that the minister of communications would seek, so brazenly, to transform our national public broadcaster into a state broadcaster beholden to the government of the day," says Sekoetlane Phamodi, SOS Coalition spokesperson told TVwithThinus.
"The SOS Coalition will take all necessary and available steps to oppose and challenge this move by the minister. The SABC belongs to the people of this country and, accordingly, it's board must be appointed by their public representatives in parliament in an open and public process."
Kate Skinner, independent broadcasting expert and Wits lecturer told TVwithThinus that "these amendments remove parliament and the public from the appointment process".
"This takes us full circle back to Apartheid. Here the public had no role in SABC appointments - the Broadcasting Act of 1976 stipulated that the president alone should appoint SABC board members."
"This is a betrayal of the ABC's post-apartheid vision for public - not state - broadcasting," says Kate Skinner.
"There is no room for this Broadcasting Amendment Bill in our democracy. It must be removed".
In a statement the Democratic Alliance (DA) political party says the Broadcasting Amendment Bill "is quite simply bad news for South Africa's democracy".
"It will see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become a ANC government propaganda tool under the control of Faith Muthambi."
"Along with the SABC Memorandum of Incorporation secretly signed by Faith Muthambi in September 2014 which gives the minister of communications the right to usurp the SABC board's powers reducing it to a mere rubber stamp, the Broadcasting Amendment Bill will give the ANC complete control over the SABC," says the DA.
"For South Africa's hard-won democracy to thrive, it is imperative that the country has a public broadcaster that is independent of government, free from political interference and presents news that is an accurate representation of conditions in South Africa."
"Any machinations to remove the independence of the SABC must be viewed as not only undemocratic, but also possibly, unconstitutional."
"The DA will vehemently oppose this Broadcasting Amendment Bill for the benefit of all South Africans who have a right to impartial news, not ANC good news stories and propaganda".
The South African Communist Party (SACP) is also vehemently opposed to the Broadcasting Amendment Bill and minister Faith Muthambi's shocking plan.
The SACP says the Broadcasting Amendment Bill will turn the SABC from a public broadcasting into a "corporate broadcaster". "The Bill will effectively make the SABC a company. All future minister of communications will have direct control over the SABC, instead of parliament".
The Inkata Freedom Party (IFP) is also strongly opposed to the Broadcasting Amendment Bill and shocked by the proposed plan to turn the SABC into a state broadcaster, calling the Broadcasting Amendment Bill "disturbing" and "an illegal take-over of the SABC".
The IFP is calling for South Africans to boycott the SABC and to immediately stop paying their SABC TV licences.
"We must unite, across political divide to save our public broadcaster," says the IFP in a statement.
"As a start, the IFP is of the opinion that citizens should lead a campaign of civil disobedience by not paying their TV licenses. If all else fails, the courts must be approached to stop this disastrous amendment bill from succeeding".
"The tabling of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill by the minister of communications will effectively turn the SABC into a state broadcaster," says the IFP.
"As things stand, the National Assembly, through the portfolio committee of communications, is part and parcel of shortlisting, interviewing and recommending candidates to serve on the SABC board."
"While the IFP has in the past lamented the fact that the SABC board appointment process is flawed - because the ANC uses its majority in Parliament to push though candidates of their choice - the current process does allow for opposition parties to negotiate and fight for the most qualified, independent candidates to be considered for these posts."
"However, if the broadcasting Amendment Bill is passed, the National Assembly will no longer be involved in appointing members to the SABC board. This will become the sole prerogative of the minister of communications."
The Economic Freedom Front (EFF) party slammed the Broadcasting Amendment Bill as "an Apartheid move".
The EFF calls the proposed change of the SABC from a public broadcaster to a state broadcaster under the control of the minister of communications "an anti-democratic, totalitarian move".
"This proposal demonstrates an uncontrollable desire by the ANC government to totalitarianism and be accountable to no one. The significant thing of any totalitarian government is total control of public broadcasting services coupled with suppression of all media freedom".
"Without the public broadcaster‚ held accountable by both parliament and cabinet‚ society only depends on corporate private broadcasters to hold politicians accountable," says the EFF.
"This Broadcasting Amendment Bill is therefore an Apartheid move‚ a fascist totalitarianism seeking to monopolise the running of the people's broadcasting services to government."
"Without parliament‚ people like the SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ who are unqualified to hold positions they occupy‚ will be increased in the leadership of the SABC solely because they want to kill independent journalism within the pubic broadcaster and stop all criticism on the government of the day," says the EFF.