SABC contracts with Telkom, SAP and Inala Broadcast questioned by watchdog

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The SABC has had to explain expansions and deviations to its contracts to Scopa.
The SABC has had to explain expansions and deviations to its contracts to Scopa.
  • Scopa has raised concerns about contracts the SABC has with some of its suppliers such as Inala Broadcast, Telkom and SAP.
  • Inala has had a contract with the SABC for 10 years and it has been repeatedly changing the contract.
  • Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the SABC needed to follow processes set out in the Public Finance Management Act.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has lambasted the SABC board on the numerous expansions and deviations the broadcaster has had on contracts with its suppliers, saying it will be held accountable.

Scopa in July raised concerns about contracts the SABC has with some of its suppliers, such as Inala Broadcast, Telkom, JASCO, debt collectors and SAP, a German software company. The expansions and deviations have resulted in Scopa saying in July that it will request the Auditor-General to perform a special audit on expansions and deviations on the SABC’s contracts that span more than 10 years. The findings will be followed by referrals to the Special Investigating Unit for a criminal investigation.  

On Tuesday, the SABC briefed Scopa on the expansions and deviations on its contract with Inala. There are three deviations and one expansion. The SABC board explained that Inala was providing it with IT solutions and was the only company in South Africa that could do so.

Inala has had a contract with the SABC for 10 years and it has repeatedly been deviating the contract over the period.

“What we are seeing at the SABC and many other state entities is that deviations are now used as a normal practice, or what appears to be a deliberate creation of conditions that will justify the use of deviation and expansion and failure which could be regarded as the sabotage to the SABC,” said committee member and ANC MP Bheki Hadebe. 

The SABC’s contract with Inala was for five years from September 2011 to September 2016 for R65.3 million and has been deviated until present.

Hadebe and other committee members questioned why the contract kept being deviated and why there were large gaps between the deviation periods, with one for a year between April 2019 and March this year, where the SABC did not have software support and maintenance.

He said the SABC was deliberately creating conditions to force deviations, which are only meant to be used under special circumstances, as the norm. He questioned why the SABC had waited seven months from March last year to October to apply for a deviation, and the National Treasury only received it three months after it was signed by SABC officials. He also questioned what happened during the seven months and who the responsible official was. 

Irene Marutla, the SABC’s general manager for strategic sourcing said the broadcaster had applied for the deviation three months before the contract was meant to lapse. However, the SABC board did not respond to the question of which official was responsible.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the SABC needed to follow the processes set out in the Public Finance Management Act in its contracts and adherence to the processes is the baseline of accountability. And the committee had not heard anything about consequences from the SABC in its briefing.

“Where are the consequences, where are the substantive investigations to remedy the problems you have inherited? A turnaround strategy which does not have consequence management and investigations entrenches future misdemeanors, misbehaviour and corruption,” he said.

Scopa’s next interaction with the SABC will be a visit together with deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana to the broadcaster where it will get a clearer picture of how it is run.

As for people who were involved in the financial issues that have been plaguing the SABC, Hlengwa said they need to be pursued.

“The SABC must understand that we are going to hold them accountable to the processes in place,” he said.  

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