Jan Gerber, News24
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has instituted legal proceedings to recover money from its former executives Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma.
Chairperson of the SABC interim board Khanyisile Kweyama updated the portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday morning on the work they have done in implementing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board, which the National Assembly adopted in March.
Kweyama told the committee that they have also decided to withdraw the court application to review former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s report on the SABC, which had damning findings against Motsoeneng.
She said the board has sought a legal opinion on the liability of board members, group executives and officials who “knowingly participate in the making of decisions or accede to decisions being made which are contrary to the policies of the corporation, principles of corporate governance” and in breach of legislation.
“The board is currently considering the institution of criminal charges against those employees who allegedly participated in criminal activity,” she said.
One of the ad hoc committee’s recommendations was to evaluate the financial and legal implications of unilateral changes to policies. Kweyama said this is ongoing.
One of these policies was Motsoeneng’s decision that the SABC must broadcast 90% local content.
“Thus far it has been established that the 90/10 local content directive has cost TV R183m (unaudited) and radio R29m (unaudited) loss in advertising revenue,” said Kweyama.
“These figures exclude the additional costs of R72m for the replacement of local content, and losses due to unused foreign rights already contracted.
“Proceedings have commenced to exercise a lien over pension payments due to Messrs Aguma and Motsoeneng and arrangements are underway to institute urgent legal action if necessary.”
Motsoeneng, former COO, was fired after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of misconduct after he held a press conference. Aguma, former CFO and acting CEO, resigned as disciplinary proceedings were instituted against him.
The board also had a look at what the ad hoc committee’s report termed “questionable” deals.
In this regard, the SABC has terminated its contracts with Lornavision and ANN7. The contract with Sekela Xabiso – which was awarded to help the broadcaster with irregular expenditure but according to evidence before the standing committee on public accounts, appears to be awarded irregularly itself – is on suspension.
“The MultiChoice contract is under review on the grounds that the important aspects are a disadvantage to the SABC and contrary to the public interest,” said Kweyama.
“The remaining questionable contracts identified by the ad hoc committee have been referred to the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) for forensic investigation.”
Humphrey Maxegwana, chairperson of the portfolio committee, said it has received 362 applications for the permanent board of the SABC which has to be established. He said the committee will begin the shortlisting next week and will conduct interviews thereafter.
Phumzile Van Damme MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 1 August 2017
The DA commends the work done by the SABC interim board and looks forward to working through the 362 applications from people who have applied to be permanent board members.
However, the work done by the interim board is being stalled because our President and Speaker are failing to carry out their mandates.
I have today requested that the Chairperson of the Communications committee urgently write to the President to ensure that he promptly sign-off on the proclamation for the SIU to investigate the SABC. This was expedited by Justice Minister months ago and there is no valid reason for the President to stall this process.
I have also requested that a letter be written to the Speaker of the National Assembly to immediately release the report on the people who lied under oath to the SABC Ad Hoc Committee, which has been ready since 5 June. It is highly irregular and unacceptable that this report has still not been tabled. These people, who willfully misled parliament, should be held to account.
Further, I requested an urgent briefing by the Minister of Police on work that has been done in relation to the threats against the SABC8. People should not be fearing for their lives when in the employ of the SABC. I have previously met with the Inspector General of Intelligence who is also looking into this matter after our investigation request. It is also crucial that all the “enforcers” of Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s reign of terror be identified and be acted against.
Finally, I insisted that Prof Maguvhe’s legal fees be revisited, as costs were awarded against him in his personal capacity and should not be covered by the SABC’s so-called legal insurance. It is crucial that not a single cent more of tax payer’s money be wasted on the SABC and politically appointed cronies.
It is worrying that the amount requested for the bail-out has still not been revealed by the interim board or the Minister, as the Minister has on various occasions promised to make public the amount requested. It is not clear why the Minister is hiding this amount from the committee and South Africans.
Despite the interim board’s hard work, it seems that yet again the political will is missing to fix the major problems at the SABC. It is time for President Zuma and Mbete to stop stalling and start acting immediately.