The heart of community media lies in MDDA hands. The Right2Know Campaign is therefore extremely concerned about the current MDDA board nomination process.
It is disheartening to note the insufficient due diligence in respect of short-listing candidates for both the SABC and MDDA boards. To illustrate, Michael Bauer was short-listed for both boards despite being only a permanent resident, and not a citizen. Moreover, while office bearers or employees of political parties are not allowed to be appointed to the board, Ronald Lamola, former deputy president of the ANC Youth League and former acting spokesperson for the Premier of Mpumalanga Province, has been shortlisted as a candidate.
It is R2K’s position that the MDDA should be independent (and insulated) from both political and corporate influence – like the SABC and IEC – and should account only to parliament.
The calibre of short-listed candidates does not inspire confidence. We note that very few candidates have the requisite background in media work, particularly community media. Like the SABC, very little will change at the MDDA without a strong board (and a changed political environment and funding model). R2K strongly urges the PCC to reopen the MDDA Board nomination process in order to ensure that strong, independent board members with a mix of relevant experience and skills are appointed. We are certain that if the MDDA Board is constituted from the current shortlist of candidates, MDDA and its projects will not see much relief soon.
R2K is also concerned by the committee’s decision to interview 10 MDDA Board candidates on the same day they are finalising the SABC Board. Given the recent (and on-going) revelations of maladministration and instability at the MDDA it is all the more crucial to ensure adequate time for scrutiny is accorded to these appointments.
The MDDA has an important media transformation mandate and as such all steps should be taken to ensure that it is led by capable people. R2K is convinced that only when the MDDA is strengthened will the goal of a transformed, diverse and independent network of community media organisations be attained.