South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

Minister Faith Muthambi disrupts dominant narratives and exposes media hypocrisy

15 Dec 2016

If we did not know better, you would swear that we live in different worlds. Indeed we have become accustomed to media's misrepresentation of facts.

Prior to Minister Muthambi's appearance before the Ad Hoc Committee Inquiry on the fitness or otherwise of the SABC, the media had, perhaps correctly so, made up its mind. After all, only one non-executive was the one person standing effectively rendering whatever is left without any decision making powers. 

This much was clear even for the Committee. What was left was the need to fulfill the legal obligatory process to bury the carcass. This process provided an opportunity for the year's LAST political grandstanding which by its nature involves obfuscation of facts and peddling of half-truths, to say nothing of display of ignorance.

Not to be outdone, the media predictably did what it does best which is to look for the scapegoat. Blinded by the theatrical performance of members of parliament the media failed to locate the problem where it belongs, which is parliament and its Portfolio Committee on Communication. The fact is, if the Board is found wanting, it is because Parliament failed in its job to select the kind of Board that will serve the country. Second, the Board is accountable to Parliament and has routinely appeared before it with not so much of a whimper of protest coming out.

Having lost the plot, the media and the opposition resorted to the fallback position which says if you can't find anyone responsible, you can always lay the blame on President Zuma's administration. In this who better to go after than the Minister responsible. 

It was therefore necessary to advance a false narrative to divert attention from real issues and culprits. In this regard two contradictory narratives were constructed. One is that the mayhem playing itself out at the SABC is because of Minister Muthambi's unbridled interference in the affairs of the corporation. The other narrative is that she was sleeping on the job. Unfortunately both are false.

First, the Board is by law the accounting authority that accounts directly to Parliament. The Minister's oversight responsibility is limited and is prescribed by law. The appointment of staff falls outside her sphere of control.  As she pointed out in Parliament and the facts bore her out, the appointment of the SABC COO was a decision of the  Board, not hers. 

Second, she has continued to fulfill her obligation in ensuring that the Board submits, strategic and annual performance plans, quarterly reports as required by Treasury and Parliament. In this regard she has attended all scheduled meetings of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communication.

Arguably her appearance and performance at the Inquiry did not go down well as it disrupted what had become the standard and dominant narratives. To her credit she used the occasion to dispel the myths and distortions that had characterized most of the media coverage. On the positive side, she exposed the DA's racist but unsurprising support of mainly white concerns. Indeed, the DA's Van Damme’s letter of demand regarding the alleged mistreatment of journalists excluded names of black journalists. As a matter of fact to do otherwise will be contrary to its DNA.

Frustrated by its impotence, the DA pulled its last card of desperation by claiming that Minister Muthambi's house was bought by Mr. Motsoeneng. The truth is however the opposite. The Minister has lived in her house long before she assumed office. We are not surprised by this. Character assassination is a weapon of the desperate.

Ayanda Hollow
Cell: 061 488 0634

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