Political parties and Parliament’s communications committee on Wednesday welcomed the resignation of SABC board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala.
“Although we would have expected that a resignation was served immediately after allegations were laid against her, we however welcome the decision and wish her well in her future endeavours,” committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa said in a statement.
It brought to an end “speculations about Ms Tshabalala’s qualifications, which compromised the image of the SABC”, Moloi-Moropa said.
The DA, ANC, Cope, and IFP expressed similar sentiments.
“Tshabalala’s resignation is also an elegant solution for President [Jacob] Zuma who was under pressure to suspend her pending the outcome of the parliamentary process,” Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis said in a statement.
The process for Parliament to remove her would have started in February, when the House reconvened.
“It has been five months since the DA requested a parliamentary inquiry into allegations that Tshabalala lied about her qualifications. It was an unnecessarily protracted saga caused by the various delaying tactics employed by Tshabalala and her legal team.”
Davis said detectives had been assigned to investigate the perjury charges against her. The presidency confirmed on Wednesday that Zuma received and accepted her resignation as board member and chairwoman.
“The president thanks Ms Tshabalala for her contribution to the public broadcaster and wishes her all the best in her future endeavours,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
Deputy board chairman Prof Mbulaheni Obert Maguvhe would act as chairman until Zuma appointed a replacement. Tshabalala has been under fire for not providing proof of her qualifications, as requested by a parliamentary committee.
Davis said credit was due to all the members of the communications portfolio committee, especially the colleagues from the African National Congress.
“They pushed ahead with the parliamentary inquiry, despite the well-known connections that Ellen Tshabalala has in the upper echelons of the party,” he said.
University of SA (Unisa) executive director for legal services Jan van Wyk told the committee’s inquiry recently that though Tshabalala had registered for her BComm degree in both 1988 and 1996, she failed to obtain the qualification.
According to Unisa records, she also registered for a diploma in labour relations in 1995. During the academic year, she passed two, failed two, and did not write two of the modules.
In January 1996, she was allowed to rewrite the two she did not write the previous year. She got 13 percent for her human resources module, and 35 percent for labour relations. Unisa then wrote to Tshabalala informing her she did not qualify to redo the course.
The committee found Tshabalala guilty of two counts of misconduct earlier this month. One for stating on her CV that she had obtained the two qualifications when she applied for the job as SABC chairwoman. The other charge related to an affidavit she submitted to Parliament stating that her qualifications had been stolen during a burglary at her home.
Tshabalala accused the committee of deciding her fate before its inquiry was completed. She said the committee had asked Zuma to suspend her prior to the decision being made.
“That says it all. Their decision was taken long ago before the inquiry,” she told reporters in Johannesburg on December 5.
She argued, through her lawyer Michael Tillney, that the committee’s decision to recommend that she be removed from office was “procedurally unfair”.
Tshabalala rejected Van Wyk’s testimony as “hearsay”, saying Unisa had been having problems with its records and computer system, and they could not be trusted.
She said she had tried numerous times to get a copy of her qualification from Unisa, but had failed because of its computer problems.
ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani welcomed the end to the saga.
“The resignation… brings to a conclusion the long drawn-out saga which unfortunately threatened the integrity and the credibility of the public broadcaster,” his office said in a statement.
The Inkatha Freedom Party said it was an opportunity for the beleaguered public broadcaster to rebuild its image and regain some credibility.
“Earlier this month, after Ms Tshabalala was found guilty of having lied about her qualifications, we called on her to spare our nation and the SABC further embarrassment, and resign. We are pleased that she heeded our call,” IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said in a statement.
She said the “deceit, drama and dismal conduct” Tshabalala displayed had done a lot of damage to the SABC. Van der Merwe appealed to the ANC in Parliament to ensure that the next SABC board chairperson was independent, credible and properly qualified. The Congress of the People said that in the face of overwhelming and unrelenting pressure, Tshabalala’s resignation was inevitable.
“The resignation was not an act of her moral persuasion, but was a direct consequence of the moral crusade to reclaim the values of our constitution,” the party’s national chairperson Pakes Dikgetsi said in a statement.
The example set by Tshabalala did not fit the kind of role models society needed, he said. SAPA