AfriForum today submitted commentary against the South African Broadcasting Corporation SOC Ltd Bill in its current form by presenting a written submission to the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies. The Bill was introduced on 30 June 2021 in the National Assembly and was opened for submissions by the public on 16 July 2021 until 31 August 2021.
The Bill is not a radical overhaul of the SABC. It is highly doubtful whether its stated objective of streamlining will necessarily lead to an increase in operational efficacy and prevent political meddling and patronage networks from taking place. While the Bill is currently not disastrous, it does represent in the view of AfriForum a significant yet missed opportunity for sorely needed and meaningful structural reform. The Bill does not do enough to achieve its own stated objectives of structural reform at a time when drastic, radical reform has never before been so crucial.
Jacques Broodryk, Campaigns Manager at AfriForum, says that any legislative reform is a wasted opportunity if it fails to effectively and robustly address the Zumafication of state-owned enterprises and the institutional gaps that allowed for state capture. All state policy and legislative action should have as its central point of focus the plugging of accountability gaps to ensure that looting, mafia politics and patronage can never again take root.
“The crises that have plagued the SABC since the early 2000s are well documented, and the public broadcaster is no exception to Zumafication. The scandals are so numerous that even the most ardent of political commentators would be hard-pressed to recall all of them at a single sitting. Cumulatively, the circus of corruption and mismanagement has rendered the public broadcaster at times completely incapable of exercising its constitutional mandate,” Broodryk concludes.