Documents 'going missing' at the SABC

Cape Town - Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has struggled to get information about the SABC's finances out of the broadcaster.

There were "skill problems" when it came to getting answers and documents from the office of the SABC's CFO, she told Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday.

In one of her first meetings with the SABC, the public broadcaster's dire financial state was not brought to her and the interim board's attention, she said: "We had to dig for information."

The meeting was held to discuss an irregular contract of R25m the SABC awarded to consultants SekelaXabiso, to help eradicate irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

However, the problem of missing documents once again reared its head.

READ: SABC awarded contract 'irregularly' to stop irregular expenditure

'Incriminating evidence'

For Scopa member, African National Congress MP Vincent Smith, who chaired the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board, this was nothing new. He had to raise the matter several times during the ad hoc committee's hearings in December and January.

"I think we must call a spade a spade. You know and I know the destruction of records is to destroy incriminating evidence."

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa added: "There is a mafia operating in the SABC."

Dlodlo said she did not want to act from the premise that documents disappeared "because people are inherently criminal".

"There really is a problem other than criminality."

She did not dispute that documents could have been stolen, but did not want to act on rumours.

"This is a rumour I also heard two days after I was appointed."

Dlodlo said that recently the SABC had been the news rather than reporting the news. She said when the fourth government took over in 2009, the SABC's governance was "in tatters". Her department had been helping the SABC with its finances.

She did not want to divulge details about the funding proposal the board had prepared. She sent it back because it did not include money for the digital migration process.

SABC board interim chairperson, Mathatha Tsedu, said the proposal was not for a bailout, but for a government guarantee.

"Banks don't trust us," he said.

He did not want to divulge a figure without Dlodlo's approval.

Dlodlo said she had not instructed the board to investigate her predecessor Faith Muthambi. The ad hoc committee had made damning findings against her.

She said the SABC's 90% local content policy was not the ANC's policy.

"I have no view whether 90% is right or wrong."

Tsedu said that despite the broadcaster's financial difficulties, staff would get paid.

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