Why SABC boss loves meetings

2014-10-12 15:00

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The SABC’s board chairperson, Ellen Tshabalala, earned almost R1?million last year from board meetings alone?– R500?000 more than her predecessor had earned a year earlier.

The public broadcaster’s annual report shows that the board was paid more than R20?million in salaries in the past financial year.

Membership of the SABC board practically turned into a day job on Ellen Tshabalala’s watch, with the two boards she chaired in the past financial year meeting for a record 35 times. Typically, company boards meet about four times a year.

Under previous chairperson Ben Ngubane, the SABC board met 15 times in a year.

City Press has also obtained a report that shows Tshabalala was removed as chairperson of the council of the Durban University of Technology in 2006 for convening unnecessary extra meetings.

In his damning report, independent assessor Professor Chabani Manganyi found that Tshabalala had conflated her role of council chairperson, taking executive decisions that should have been left to the vice-chancellor.

Under her, the council?–?which is supposed to meet four times a year?–?organised endless meetings, at times one every month over a three-month period.

While Tshabalala and the interim SABC board ran the broadcaster between late March and the end of September last year, this board met 16 times and in the following six months, the newly appointed board, also under Tshabalala, had more meetings?–?18, or on average, three a month.

And because board members are usually remunerated for each meeting, this had a devastating effect on the broadcaster’s constricted budget.

Tshabalala did not respond to repeated and detailed requests for comment throughout the week. She earned almost R1?million in the past financial year?–a cool R78?000 a month, or R27?000 per board meeting.

Ngubane earned R521?000 in his final year as board chairperson. Presuming this was calculated on a per-meeting basis, he would have earned R47?363 per board meeting, but R43?400 a month.

The board’s salary bill for the 2013/14 financial year was boosted considerably by the enormous salaries earned by three of the four executive members who had served during this period:

»?R8?million to former group CEO Lulama Mokhobo, which included a R2.2?million golden handshake.

»?R2.8?million to COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

»?R2.9?million to ousted CFO Gugu Duda.

»?R1.7?million to former acting group CEO and former acting CFO Tian Olivier.

The earnings of SABC’s senior management added another R34?million to the executive salary bill, including R5.4?million paid to acting senior managers.

Sources close to the board said until now, the question of Tshabalala’s qualification was considered a private matter that had not even come up for discussion.

They said the board would probably only be required to discuss the matter once Parliament had made a finding in Tuesday’s hearing.

None of the board members contacted this week wanted to comment, saying it would be premature.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, who asked Transnet’s board chairperson to investigate Tshabalala’s CV, is still considering the matter. Tshabalala’s qualifications may be dealt with in a broader shake-up of parastatal board members.

This was signalled by Brown’s recent call for nominations for new board members at seven parastatals, including Transnet, Eskom and SAA.

Tshabalala and the DUT

Independent assessor Professor Chabani Manganyi found in 2006 that Ellen Tshabalala meddled in the running of the Durban University of Technology by placing herself in committees responsible for running the institution, bypassing important governance structures and even signing contracts on the institution’s behalf.

Then education minister Naledi Pandor had ordered an investigation into the DUT largely because of the deteriorating relationship between Tshabalala as council chairperson and vice chancellor Bonganjalo Goba.

Manganyi found that the university council had held what he called “endless special meetings”.

“The council overtime became grossly inefficient, unintentionally assumed the role of a bottleneck, which retarded timely implementation of important decisions. In time, a council with four scheduled meetings for the year 2005, added numerous special meetings and “continuation” meetings,” Manganyi wrote in his report.

He found that very few substantive decisions had been taken at these meetings.

The report eventually led to the dissolution of council and Tshabalala’s departure as chairperson, a role she’d assumed in 2005. – Caiphus Kgosana

Independent assessor Professor Chabani Manganyi found in 2006 that Ellen Tshabalala had meddled in the affairs of running the Durban University of Technology (DUT) by putting herself in committees responsible for running the institution, bypassing important governance structures and signing contracts on behalf of the DUT.

Then education minister Naledi Pandor had ordered a probe into the DUT, largely because of deteriorating relations between Tshabalala as council chairperson and vice-chancellor Bonganjalo Goba.

Manganyi found the council had held “endless special meetings”.

“The council overtime became grossly inefficient, unintentionally assumed the role of a bottleneck, which retarded timely implementation of important decisions. In time, a council with four scheduled meetings for 2005 added numerous special meetings and ‘continuation’ meetings.”

He found very few substantive decisions had been taken at meetings. His report led to the council’s dissolution and Tshabalala’s departure as chairperson.

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