SABC has bad apples: CEO

2009-06-30 16:05

Cape Town - An SABC executive admitted on Tuesday that the broadcaster has its share of "rotten apples" as calls mount for a full forensic investigation into "wastage" and mismanagement at the organisation.

"We have our fair share of rotten apples who are trying to infect us with a deadly virus - incompetence," acting chief executive Gab Mampone told Parliament's portfolio committee on communications.

Earlier a 14-page memorandum from the Communications Workers Union and the Media Workers' Association of South Africa, alleging that "money has been wasted with impunity" at the SABC, was handed to the committee.

The unions called for an immediate independent forensic audit into the SABC, which reported a financial loss of R839m for the 2008/09 financial year. The broadcaster has asked the government for a R2bn bailout.

Full accountability

"We demand full accountability and complete answers from the SABC board and management on the way that the SABC had been mismanaged, bringing it to the point of collapse, which endangers all of our livelihoods," the memorandum stated.

Among the unions' allegations was a series of payments, valued at several million rand, made to the company Gemini Consulting.

It needed to be established whether the empowerment company registered to Gemini Consulting was not de facto owned by the SABC's head of group management and strategy, Sipho Sithole, and axed chief executive Dali Mpofu, the memorandum read.

The unions were also concerned that the SABC was still paying for Mpofu's security.

"How much is this costing the SABC on a monthly basis, and who took the decision to continue with the payments?" the unions questioned in the memorandum.

Last week the committee concluded that the SABC was "dysfunctional" and no longer able to fulfil its statutory duties.

'Unrestrained over-expenditure'

It would recommend that the National Assembly adopt a resolution recommending to the appointing authority the dissolution of the SABC board.

The report said losses at the broadcaster in the past year were due to declining revenue and "unrestrained over-expenditure".

There was evidence of serious lapses in sound operational management of the SABC by the executive management that warranted further urgent attention by the shareholder, the report read.

On Wednesday Sithole gave a lengthy presentation on the broadcaster's strategy for the future. He did not deal with any allegations of mismanagement.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, who is a member of the committee, said he wanted allegations by the unions to be investigated before continuing with the hearing.

"I don't think we can talk about strategy when they are accused of looting the resources of the SABC."

Committee chairman Ismail Vadi said the committee did not have the tools to hold a full investigation into the SABC.

"The allegations are coming fast and furious these days," Vadi said. "There are other arms of state, such as the prosecuting authority, that can be given the responsibility - to respond to the allegations. We do not have the resources.

"We don't want to sweep anything under the carpet," he added.