New SABC board tackles costly Motsoeneng mess

2017-05-14 07:48
(Photo: SABC website)

(Photo: SABC website)

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The SABC has 164 people working in its TV licence department, yet the corporation has been outsourcing TV licence fee collection to a company that has been underperforming.

This is one of the contracts that the newly appointed interim board will be terminating and referring to the authorities for a forensic investigation.

The interim board briefed Parliament this week about a series of forensic investigations – including the auditing of questionable contracts and a review of the SABC’s editorial policy – instituted since its appointment by President Jacob Zuma in March.

Among the many shocking revelations was that the SABC continued to outsource licence fee collection to Lorna Vision, which had failed to meet its target by more than 50%.

Interim board member Febe Potgieter-Gqubule said the board had decided to cancel the contract – scheduled to run until the end of July – ahead of time to save money.

“With regard to the collections of licences, especially those that relate to renewals as well as new subscriptions, there is capacity within the SABC to do that. It would be much more efficient to do it in-house,” she said.

While Lorna Vision was expected to collect at least R1 billion a year in TV licence fees, it had a shortfall of R449 million for the year, according to another board member, John Matisonn.

He questioned the inclusion of renewals in the contract, saying: “Any accountant will insist that you do not outsource renewals because that is mostly automatic. You need not give a commission to somebody to renew. That is why we are confident the contract cannot stand as it is.”

The corporation has also requested a meeting with its competitors MultiChoice and TNA Media to discuss current contracts and determine future relationships.

Questionable moves

Interim board chair Khanyisile Kweyama said paperwork was “lean” in this regard.

“There was indeed a collapse in corporate governance at the SABC,” Kweyama said.

But the board has moved to halt many of the questionable moves. The SABC will no longer review the Public Protector’s When Governance and Ethics Fail report, which was published in 2014. It is withdrawing court matters that add no value to the corporation and will take former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng through a disciplinary process, which will start on Wednesday.

The board’s audit and risk committee has also recommended the cancellation of contracts that do not add value to the SABC. It will also subject some contracts that had been highlighted in the parliamentary ad hoc committee report to an internal forensic investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

A forensic audit investigation on fruitless and wasteful expenditure, incurred between April 2012 and March this year, has been commissioned by the board, and the SIU will be asked to investigate all appointments, promotions, salary increases and bonuses paid in contravention of SABC policy – as stipulated in the Public Protector’s report and the final report of the ad hoc committee.

In its presentation, the interim board revealed that the 90% local content directive had cost SABC TV an unaudited figure of R183 million in advertising revenue, and a R29 million loss for radio. These figures exclude the R72 million forked out to replace local content.

While the board was open about what it found at the SABC and how it planned to turn things around, it was quiet on details of the bailout it was requesting from government.

Regarding the review of the SABC’s editorial policy, Potgieter-Gqubule said that, given the deficiencies identified in the last editorial policy, the board decided to revert to the 2004 editorial policy while a process that would include public consultation to review the policy was undertaken.

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Read more on:    sabc  |  hlaudi ­motsoeneng  |  febe potgieter-gqubule  |  media

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