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Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 18:52 UK

S Africa MPs propose media chiefs

South African man watching TV, file image
The broadcaster's output has often come in for harsh criticism

A parliamentary committee has proposed a five-strong board to head the South African Broadcasting Corporation, a day after the previous board was sacked.

Parliament voted to dissolve the board after months of infighting and alleged mismanagement - the public broadcaster is 740m rand ($94m; £58m) in debt.

The communications committee has now chosen five people for an interim board which MPs will vote on next week.

Critics have long said the broadcaster was a mouthpiece for the government.

They accused former President Thabo Mbeki of filling the previous board with his own followers.

Who can blame them for giving up?
Democrat Alliance MP Lindiwe Mazibuko

Opposition parties said the new board would have to be politically impartial if the beleaguered broadcaster's reputation is to be restored.

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says four of the members of the proposed interim board are seen as relatively neutral.

But the committee could not agree on the fifth nominee - Phil Mtimkulu, a political science lecturer who was nominated by the governing Africa National Congress (ANC).

They were eventually forced into a vote, and approved his nomination by eight votes to four.

'Dysfunctional'

The SABC has been saddled with debt since the mid-1990s, with some board members and senior managers accused of abusing their position to enrich themselves.

The board and managers have also openly rowed over major decisions and blamed each other for the corporation's difficulties.

By the time the National Assembly decided to dissolve the board, most of them had already quit.

Committee chairman Ismael Vadi said the board was "dysfunctional".

Opposition Democratic Alliance MP Lindiwe Mazibuko said there was little choice but to agree on the board's dissolution.

"After having been harassed by parliament for their entire 18 months in office... and after probably enduring extraordinary political pressure to resign, who can blame them for giving up?" she said.

Earlier the board's chairman, Kanyisiwe Mkonza, had told the committee: "I do agree, I suck as a leader, but this board never had a chance."

The National Assembly will vote on the proposed interim board members next Tuesday.

If MPs approved the board, President Jacob Zuma will then have the final say.



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