The SABC’s golden handshakes have cost you R35m

The 12 golden handshakes that the SABC dished out over the past five years have cost South Africans a staggering R34.7 million. 

This includes a payment of R4.2 million to Lulama Mokhobo, the broadcaster’s former group chief executive, who – according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela – approved a salary increase of nearly R1 million in one year for Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s controversial chief operating officer. 

There was also, according to the question asked in Parliament yesterday, an additional payment of R1.4 million made to Mokhobo for “restraint of trade” purposes. 
Mokhobo previously denied that she had approved the increase. 

These shocking figures came to light in an answer by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to a question from Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Phumzile van Damme over golden handshakes. 

In addition to the R34.7 million, the SABC also had to fork out R7.9 million to two former employees for restraint of trade purposes and for legal fees, bringing the grand total to R42.6 million. 

The contracts of the 12 staff members, who were named by Muthambi, were ended in different stages over the past five years, but at least two cases were directly related to what Madonsela described as Motsoeneng’s “abuse of power” at the SABC. 

Muthambi’s answer indicates that Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, the former group executive, who is married to Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, received R2.6 million. 

It was Ntombela-Nzimande who originally submitted the charges of mismanagement against the SABC to the Public Protector. 

Charlotte Mampane, senior group executive, whose contract was terminated early by the SABC and who also lodged a complaint with Madonsela about Motsoeneng, was paid R4.3 million. 

According to Madonsela’s report Motsoeneng advised the SABC board not to renew Ntombela-Nzimande and Mampane’s contracts. 

This means that the payout of both these officials was a direct result of Motsoeneng’s behaviour, and cost the SABC R6.9 million. 

Muthambi’s answer does not include the amounts that the courts awarded to several other members of senior management. 

Madonsela found that “the allegation that Motsoeneng purged senior staff members, leading to the avoidable loss of millions of Rand towards salaries in respect of unnecessary settlements … is justified”. 

Motsoeneng is appealing against a high court order that he be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry. His case is set to be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Friday. 

Muthambi’s answer also shows that Dali Mpofu, who was group chief executive of the SABC between 2005 and 2009, received a golden handshake of R6.7 million.

An additional R4.4 million payment was made for “restraint of trade” purposes and another R2.1 million for legal fees. 

Phil Molefe, the former head of news and actuality, who reached a settlement with the SABC in 2013, received R4.9 million, according to the answer. 

Molefe was suspended after his boss, Mokhobo (who was paid out R4.2 million) had complained that the ANC hadn’t been included in a programme about Julius Malema, who at that stage had been ousted as president of the ANC Youth League. 

Solly Mokoetle, another former chief executive, was paid R3.8 million. 

The other names on the list include: Thelma Melk (R3 million), Zaiboonisha Jones (R1.7 million), Christopher David (R800 000), Rapitse Montsho (R1.2 million), Khulekelwe Mbonambi (R623 000) and Jackie Motsepe (R882 000). 

Mishack Molekeng, Muthambi’s spokesperson said: “The minister is happy with the progress made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The public broadcaster has made a significant progress in improving the management of its finances as well as accountability for the period under review”. 

Kaizer Kganyago, the SABC’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

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