What ‘secret’ report details

2010-08-25 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The report that was supposed to be presented to a closed meeting of Parliament’s communication committee yesterday portrays SABC chairperson Ben Ngubane and group head Solly Mokoetle as the stumbling blocks in the public broadcaster’s road to financial stability and good corporate governance.

Besides Mokoetle’s sustained contempt for the SABC board, it states that Ngubane’s extraordinary, unusual and brazen dereliction of duty means the board is incapable of fulfilling its statutory and fiduciary duties.

It also means that the broadcaster will not be able to cover its expenses at the end of the 2011/12 financial year.

The presentation, leaked to the media, was compiled and approved by the whole board, without input from Ngubane.

The board states that the SABC is facing an escalation of the ongoing financial crisis that reached a climax in the 2008/09 financial year.

The report also says:

• The relationship between the board and the chairperson has “broken down irreparably”;

• A disciplinary procedure has been launched against Mokoetle;

• The board has taken over responsibility for compiling a comprehensive turnaround strategy.

The presentation provides a detailed summary of the board’s acti­vities since it was appointed in January and Ngubane was appointed as chairperson by President Jacob Zuma — after more than two years of conflict, allegations of political interference and mismanagement within the broadcaster’s management and board, which eventually led to enormous losses and a government loan of over R1,4 billion.

According to the board, the current problems at the SABC — including wasteful spending, irregular acquisitions and poor corporate management — could not be solved yet as a result of Ngubane and Mokoetle’s autocratic and at times irregular management styles.

Ngubane is accused of cancelling board meetings summarily and on short notice, withholding information and preventing board members from fulfilling their supervisory role.

The main complaint about him involves his unilateral appointment of Phil Molefe as the SABC’s head of news after consultation with Mokoetle.

The board alleges this does not comply with the SABC’s articles of incorporation nor with a decision by the board.

The board is also alleging that Ngubane “told board members on several occasions that he is acting [with regard to the appointment of the head of news] on direct instructions from the president of the republic”.

SA National Editors’ Forum

The issues to come before the committee about the public broadcaster were of overwhelming public interest and the reasons advanced for the closed hearing were not sufficient to warrant a ban on the media attending the hearing

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