SABC executives to face sharp questions on missing millions

2009-09-26 15:19

ALMOST the entire SABC executive, including former chief executive Dali Mpofu, will be asked to explain several deals which resulted in the public broadcaster allegedly being looted.

The report released by the Auditor-General (AG), Terrence Nom- bembe, does not mention any executives by name.
City Press understands, however, that former legal and business advisory services head Mafika Sihlali – a close ally of Mpofu – and head of international programme acquisitions Matilda Gaboo, who have both since left the SABC, might be asked to explain a number of questionable transactions.

Mpofu and Sihlali entered into a material agreement for R326 million with Siemens Southern Africa without authority from the board.

The AG said the R326 million included R255 million which was the project fee (or 15% of the capital cost of the project) and a once-off payment of R7 million. The total cost of the project was expected to be R1.7 billion; a figure the AG said was ­calculated by the SABC.

Siemens’ Sithembile Mokaeane said she could not respond to City Press’s questions because she was out of the office.
Content enterprise boss Mvuzo Mbebe, who has been accused of ­allowing Gaboo to resign after more than R100?million had been wasted on programmes that were never aired, might also face the music.

Acting chief financial officer Charlotte Mampane, acting CEO Gab Mampone and former news boss Snuki Zikalala complete the ­executive which ran the SABC during this tumultuous period.

The SABC has been milked of ­millions over at least five years.

City Press understands that the SABC interim board started formulating charges against the executives on September 13.

They will be finalised on Wednesday and criminal cases will be opened at Brixton police station early in October.

Internal disciplinary hearings for junior and senior SABC staff members are set to be concluded before the end of November 2009. One of the executives told City Press yesterday he had already consulted his lawyers and would be mounting a legal challenge against the SABC.

Nombembe’s probe into the finances of the SABC has revealed widespread looting of its coffers in deals worth nearly R1?billion.

Executives are alleged to have ­authorised deals with companies in which they had interests, or not to have followed proper financial and procurement processes, resulting in millions of rands being paid out under questionable circumstances.

This comes barely a month after the SABC paid Mpofu R14,1 million in an out-of-court settlement that saw him leave after two years of court battles with the board led by the former chairperson, Khanyi Mkonza.

Questions have now emerged as to why the new board rushed to pay Mpofu before the internal audit process had been completed.

Mpofu said yesterday he was not afraid, and added that he would challenge any action against him. He declined to comment further.

Mvuzo Mbebe, who heads the SABC’s content enterprises division, which was found to have internal control deficiencies with regard to the acquisition of international programme content, refused to ­comment on shenanigans in the ­division.

“The board chairperson is the ­only one allowed to speak on the matter,” said Mbebe.

The South African Reserve Bank is among law enforcement agencies that will investigate prima facie cases of generally corrupt practices and the interim SABC board has recommended that the bank also investigate foreign currency and cross- border transactions.

In a presentation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications this week, board member Leslie Sedibe said the SA Revenue Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the police would also investigate fraud, overpayments (including double payments), underpayments and breach of the public finance management, companies and broadcasting acts.
The board has recommended 13 cases for prosecution, which include:

Double payments to suppliers totalling R1.3 million.

Overpayments totalling R2.3 million to be referred for prosecution, with the total amount of overpayment being R111 million.

Material worth R88 million under the category, acquisition of international programmes, which was paid for but never received.

Almost R5.2 million for “titles ­acquired more than once from the same supplier during the same ­licence period”.

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