Black tops S. Africa b’caster

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The board of South African pubcaster SABC Wednesday elected Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri as chairwoman, ending two months of uncertainty and controversy.

Matsepe-Casaburri, 55, the first black to head the South African Broadcasting Corp., left South Africa in the early 1960s as a political exile.

She spent some time in the United States, where she obtained her master’s degree in sociology before moving to Zambia as a university lecturer.

Since her return from exile in mid-1991, Matsepe-Casaburri has worked as an educationist with a non-governmental org.

While she does not have overt political links, she is known to lean toward Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

At a press conference Wednesday, she said the final composition of the SABC board was decided by board members and agreed to byPresident Frederik de Klerk.

The appointment by de Klerk of an independent SABC board on May 31, ending four decades of party political control, turned into a fiasco when it was found that the South African leader had made seven nominations to the board in the place of names submitted by an independent panel.

Two of the seven appointed by de Klerk resigned almost immediately, and on June 24 the chairman, liberal politician Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, also quit, saying he did not want to be seen as “de Klerk’s man.”

The panel’s nominee for chairman, black professor Njabulo Ndebele, was rejected by de Klerk.

The board rejected a recommendation from media watchdog Campaign for Independent Broadcasting that those nixed by de Klerk be reinstated and Ndebele be made chairman, Matsepe-Casaburri said. She gave no reasons.

New office

The new chairwoman also announced the appointment of an ombudsman’s office to deal with criticism of the corporation’s news coverage, which the CIB and ANC claim is biased in favor of the ruling white minority government.

She added that the board was worried about the low level of voter literacy as the country’s first all-race elections — scheduled for April 27 — approach.

To try to remedy the situation, the board plans to launch a massive voter education campaign.

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