Charnley, Vos join SABC board

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ICT personalities Irene Charnley and Suzanne Vos were appointed as non-executive directors to the SA Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC's) interim board by Parliament yesterday.

Their appointments come in the wake of the controversy surrounding the state-owned broadcaster's board and management, which resulted in allegations of mismanagement, misappropriation of funds and corruption. The SABC now has debt of more than R800 million.

The board that Parliament dissolved also had two ICT personalities: broadcasting and telecommunications academic Allison Gillwald, and former ICASA councillor and currently head of Cell C's regulatory division Nadia Bulbulia.

Charnley is CEO of telecommunications company Smile Telecoms, which aims to roll-out a network catering for low-income households and subscribers who are unable to afford the basic rates charged by the cellular network operators.

She started her career in the trade union movement and then joined industrial holdings group Johnnic, before becoming a director of cellular network operator MTN where she was part of the team that spearheaded its listing. At MTN, Charnley helped negotiate MTN's contracts to enter various markets, including Iran.

Charnley formed Smile Telecoms just over two years ago. Last year, she supported attempts by former communications minister, the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, to block the Altech court applications to allow value-added network services to convert to individual-electronic communications network services licences.

Vos, a former Inkatha Freedom Party MP, was a long standing member of Parliament's communication committee. She had a central role in the drafting of the Electronic Communications Act, the law that replaced the Telecommunications Act.

Almost two years ago, when the former SABC board was first appointed, Vos warned in Parliament against it, as she thought then it was too heavily weighted in favour of former president Thabo Mbeki's political allies.

“It is a great honour to be appointed to the board and I shall certainly do my best for the good of the country and the corporation. It is too early now to comment on what will happen as the new board has yet to meet,” Vos says.

Ismail Vadi, chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications, says Charnley's appointment, along with the other new members, will help bridge the gap that has developed between the non-executive members of the SABC board and the executive and management.

“She [Charnley] has a lot of experience, especially in corporate governance and she, along with the other board members, will have a clear understanding of the roles of the non-executive,” Vadi notes.

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