All above board at SABC - acting CEO

2017-02-28 18:00
New group CEO of SABC James Aguma. (SABC, Twitter)

New group CEO of SABC James Aguma. (SABC, Twitter)

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Cape Town – The SABC might not have a board, a chief executive, a chief operations officer or even a Hlaudi Motsoeneng on staff right now, but business is not at a standstill.

The broadcaster presented its annual report to Parliament's communications committee on Tuesday, and acting CEO James Aguma assured the committee that all decisions made without a board were legitimate.

Aguma detailed the entity's R411m loss for the 2015/16 financial year, the reasons for the loss and how the SABC was coping without a board.

He was questioned on the legitimacy of contracts worth millions of rands which were entered into over the festive season.

The SABC did not have a board at the time and Parliament is still to approve an interim board.

Aguma told the committee that the broadcaster had a delegation of authority framework that made board approval necessary for contracts of a certain amount.

'The SABC has to broadcast'

"The SABC cannot grind to a halt because there is no board. To the extent that we do not have a board, those contracts may be deferred. We may ask for condonation thereafter," he said.

The contracts, however, had been entered into rightfully and were "properly authorised".

"Business continues, the SABC has to broadcast."

Aguma also defended the payment of bonuses to some executives amid the R411m loss.

He said some staff members had forfeited their 13th cheques for two years before bonus payments were resumed.

All bonuses were paid with board approval, he said.

The SABC was also questioned about why there seemed to be no consequences for irregular and fruitless expenditure.

"This was a tactical decision," Aguma said.

Irregular spending last on the list

When the SABC's action plan to deal with audit findings was designed, he said, it could have included ways to deal with irregular expenditure.

"But the only problem is you could have dealt with someone who created R5 000 in irregular expenditure, fired the person and that very person you may fire could have been the same person you need supporting documents on assets from," he said.

They wanted to deal with the low hanging fruit first, he said, and this included assets and TV licences.

"But we didn't ignore irregular expenditure, we still had people doing it. But we did not want to create a sense of fear at the SABC. When you raise a flag, everyone goes into a state of panic," he said.

They put it down as the last matter to deal with, he said.

Asked where Motsoeneng was in relation to the broadcaster's day-to-day operations, Aguma said the former COO was adhering to court instructions.

"The former COO is not at the premises of the SABC because the court judgment said he shouldn't be there. He is exercising his rights, that's all I can say," Aguma said.

Read more on:    sabc  |  james aguma  |  media

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