Aguma gets flack from Scopa over late SABC documents

James Aguma (Jan Gerber, Netwerk24)
James Aguma (Jan Gerber, Netwerk24)

Cape Town – The SABC was up to its old tricks of letting documents disappear, or pulling them out of a hat at the 11th hour, when it appeared before the standing committee on public accounts on Wednesday morning.

These "missing documents" led to the meeting in the first place, Netwerk24 reported.

Scopa chair Themba Godi said the first paragraph of the presentation the SABC board sent to the committee stated they were still busy investigating and couldn't supply the information the committee needed.

"But abracadabra! A large document is sent to us only last night," Godi said.

"I'm not sure what you expect me to do with it."

The Auditor General found irregular and fruitless expenditure of R5.1bn at the public broadcaster, but that could have been because supporting documents were not available. 

The ad hoc committee looking into the SABC board's fitness to hold office tabled its report in the National Assembly on Monday. It had struggled for ages to get documents from the SABC.

On Wednesday, Scopa members were not impressed.

'Don’t apologise, just explain'

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it looked like the SABC was not taking them seriously.

Acting SABC CEO James Aguma apologised for handing in the documents late.

"Don't apologise, just explain," Godi said.

Aguma said the reason for the lateness was due to the volume of information they had to process.

Hlengwa said that, if an investigation was underway, the information would have been kept in one place.

A few committee members considered sending the SABC's delegation back. They, however, decided to go ahead and to possibly visit SABC headquarters in the future.

Aguma could not supply specific information to MPs. He kept referring to "historical issues".

Hlengwa said: "What must awaken the SABC to say: 'Whoa, there is a problem here?' Must it really reach R5bn? Do you actually take this R5bn issue seriously?"

"Chairperson, we take these matters extremely seriously," Aguma answered.

'They've got no regard for the law'

ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi said they were trying to be patient with him.

"You are inviting trouble. You have no regard for the law yourselves. That is why people are threatened in your institution."

Aguma disagreed that the SABC did not respect the law.

"They've got no regard for the law, so they don't respect any institution created by the Constitution. They have no regard for the AG. They have no regard for the public protector," Booi said.

"You want to hide information from Parliament. That is why you sent the information late. You yourself don't know what's happening in your institution."

Aguma said this was not the impression he wanted to create.

Jan Gerber
Parliamentary journalist
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001  e:
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