SABC paid millions for Guptas' breakfast briefings

Cape Town - The SABC paid R20m for the broadcasting of the Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age's breakfast briefings, in contradiction to earlier testimony before Parliament.

Chairperson of the interim SABC board Khanyisile Kweyama told the portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday morning that the board was initially told that it didn't cost the public broadcaster anything, but further investigations revealed that it cost R20m.

This contradicts the testimony of Dr Ben Ngubane, who was SABC board chairperson when the deal was concluded.

He told the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board at the time that the SABC did not pay for the breakfast briefings.

Ngubane resigned as Eskom board chairperson on Monday night.

Disciplinary proceedings

Chairperson of the portfolio committee on communications Humphrey Maxegwana said since he came to the committee in 2016, James Aguma, suspended SABC CFO and former acting CEO, said that the SABC did not pay for the briefings.

Kweyama confirmed that they have cancelled the contract, despite it still being valid for 11 more months.

"It was not good for our reputation," said Kweyama. She said Friday's breakfast briefing will be the last one that the SABC will broadcast.

The interim board has asked Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to approach the Presidency to appoint the Special Investigations Unit to investigate several contracts at the SABC.

She also said the SABC will proceed with disciplinary proceedings against Aguma, who has been charged with lying to Parliament as well as other charges "relating to honesty".

The next meeting will be on Thursday, where Aguma will be furnished with documents that he has requested for his defence.

She also confirmed that controversial former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is serving one month's notice after he was found guilty of misconduct in light of his four-hour long press conference in April.

He will also be subjected to another disciplinary hearing relating to the string of findings the Public Protector made against him in 2014, but Kweyama expects that this process won't be completed before Motsoeneng's month is over, given his apparent tendency to use delay tactics.

Huge loss

Motsoeneng won't be paid the remainder of his contract, as he was found guilty of misconduct.

Furthermore, the SIU will be investigating the bonus of R11m he received as a finder's fee for the SABC's controversial deal with MultiChoice, as there seemed to be irregularities in the awarding of the bonus.

"It didn't follow proper government processes," said Kweyama.

The SABC expects to make a nett loss of R1.1bn for the 2016/2017 financial year.

Dlodlo said she is finally happy with the board's proposal to go to the treasury to ask for financial assistance.

She did not want to disclose the amount before she spoke with the minister of finance. She said the proposal will be sent to treasury this week or at the latest next week.

Members from all the parties represented in the committee congratulated Dlodlo and Kweyama and her interim board for the work they have thus far done to turn the SABC around.

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