THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Daft interdict by SABC's lone hold-out chairperson to prevent parliament's inquiry into SABC crisis dismissed as Mbulaheni Maguvhe is ordered to personally pay the court costs.


The South African court on Friday evening slammed the sudden, last-ditch effort by the SABC's last remaining board member, prof Mbulaheni Obert Maguvhe to thwart transparency and accountability as he tried to stop a parliamentary inquiry into the ongoing SABC crisis, with the Western Cape High Court that dismissed his urgent interdict application and ordered him to pay the legal costs personally.

The parliamentary inquiry will now go ahead.

Prof Mbulaheni Obert Maguvhe as the last one left on the gutted SABC board unsuccessfully argued that the parliamentary inquiry into the SABC's ongoing chaotic shenanigans would be biased and unfair.

Meanwhile the SABC lawyers unsuccessfully tried to argue that the public broadcaster had a right to protect commercial information as its reason for refusing to hand over documents requested by parliament of things like the SABC's highly controversial contract with MultiChoice for channels like SABC News and SABC Encore that makes use of the SABC's archives.

Judge Siraj Desai in courtroom 9 at the Western Cape High Court on Friday told the SABC lawyers - who appeared smug and arrogant as well as unprepared, stuttering and faltering when he asked questions - that "I'm trying to think as much as I can in your favour, but my mind leads to different conclusions".

Advocate Ismail Jamie SC appearing on behalf of the SABC (and who couldn't pronounce Mbulaheni Maguvhe's name correctly) didn't come across in the court case - broadcast live on SABC News (DStv 404) as very forthcoming when Judge Siraj Desai multiple times asked who is paying him and who appointed the legal council.

"I'm entitled to be here. My client is the SABC," said Ismail Jamie, with the court told that acting SABC CEO James Aguma authorised the SABC's legal eagles.

On why the SABC refused to hand over the documents requested from Mbulaheni Maguvhe for parliament's SABC inquiry, Ismail Jamie told Judge Siraj Desai that Maguvhe is only "entitled to see the documents, but he's not entitled to hand over the documents because he's not the owner of the documents.

He said the SABC as a public broadcaster is "entitled to protect our own commercial interests".

"No, you are not. The SABC is an asset of all South Africans," said Judge Siraj Desai.

"This is not the baby in the bath water. This is the elephant in the bath water. The entire board is [gone]," said Judge Siraj Desai, noting that "virulence has swept the SABC board".

Judge Siraj Desai told Mbulaheni Maguvhe's lawyer Thabani Masuku several times things like: "I do not follow you. Why is it not correct?", "I can't understand your problem in this regard".

Thabani Masuku said: "All I'm saying is, lets not make too much of an issue that the SABC board is not functioning".

Judge Siraj Desai said "One doesn't see a vacancy, but one sees the crumbling, disintegration of the SABC board itself" and that "the objective fact here is the SABC board has crumbled. Crumbled to the fact that it is inquorate."

Thabani Masuku told the judge that the SABC board and Mbulaheni Maguvhe read bad things about them in the media, that they don't like it and don't have the "courage" to read the newspapers, saying: "Some people do not take kindly to the kind of language used to describe the SABC board and its fails".

The packed court room burst out in laughter several times.

"When one is in a public position, then criticism, when you fail, is inevitable," said Judge Siraj Desai. "When you're the chairperson of the SABC, then you can't be unduly sensitive".

When Thabani Masuku tried to argue that Mbulaheni Maguvhe dignity is at stake, Judge Siraj Desai said "To be the last man standing [at the gutted and failed SABC board] is hardly a very dignified position".