‘With President Zuma‚ no time for SABC chat’ – Faith Muthambi’s own ANC caucus in parliament is left in lurch

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi’s own ANC caucus has expressed their displeasure at her continued absence from crucial portfolio committee meetings‚ and want to engage with her “urgently” to address her department’s failures.

Muthambi has missed the second meeting in less than a month‚ again owing to an engagement with President Jacob Zuma.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi

In February Muthambi was excused from a meeting with the committee while visiting Soshanguve with Zuma.

Muthambi tendered another apology this week‚ saying she was in KwaZulu-Natal with Zuma.

Muthambi was supposed to brief the committee on her department’s performance as well as matter pertaining to the SABC and its interim board.

African National Congress MP Nokuzola Tolashe said the committee is always forced to rearrange its diary whenever Muthambi misses a meeting.

“So it’s important for the minister to prioritise the committee so that we are able to get more‚ especially on her wisdom‚ on things that are taking place in her department. I think it must be emphasised‚ chairperson‚ it’s always wise for her to be part of the portfolio committee meetings so that we can get more and she can get some wisdom from committee going forward. It’s something that really is now a concern‚” said Tolashe.

ANC MP and committee whip Lerumo Kalako said they need to “interface with the minister”.

“I want to make this proposal here in the committee. We schedule meeting and find a day just before we rise (for recess) we find a day with the minister‚ in particular around issues of the interim board and ad hoc committee. I want us to take that decision as committee. Maybe the chair‚ with your staff‚ you can‚ according to programme‚ see the minister urgently on those issues‚” said Kalako.

Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme also joined the chorus and supported the suggestion that an urgent meeting be held with Muthambi.

“We need to‚ as a committee‚ lay out what we think needs to happen at the SABC with the interim board. Can I suggest the meeting happens urgently? I am concerned about the minister not being here. Last week she said she couldn’t come because she’s with the president. Again this week she’s with the president. So it is a big concern that she hasn’t been to parliament‚” said Van Damme.

The ANC’s Mondli Gungubele said the committee needed to discuss a turnaround with Muthambi and needed to talk to her urgently.

“On the issue of an urgent meeting with the minister and the committee as proposed by the whip‚ the meeting …. must discuss a process of a turnaround plan. If there’s one thing we should do‚ in 24 hours‚ is to ensure that recommendations (of the ad hoc committee report) are implemented. Parliament has actually interfaced with that. But we need a meeting‚” said Gungubele.

He said they should do everything formally going forward.

“Let’s do it on the record‚ noting failure to attend following meetings. This is the committee’s concern. Under normal circumstances these presentations we’re dealing with‚ the primary accountant to this committee is the minister‚ it’s not her officials‚” said Gungubele.

Moses Tseli (ANC) said he “fully concurs” with the proposal which says the meeting must be very urgent.

On the SABC interim board‚ the committee adopted its report and appointed Business Unity SA CEO Khanyisile Kweyama as chairperson and Mathatha Tsedu as her deputy.

The report will be tabled in the National Assembly for adoption on Wednesday this week.

– TMG Digital/Parliamentary Bureau

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