EXPOSED: The deep rot inside the broadcaster

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Hlaudi Motsoeneng greets supporters outside the High Court in Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)
Hlaudi Motsoeneng greets supporters outside the High Court in Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Appointments at the public broadcaster were made to posts that had not been advertised; and those who got the jobs didn’t have the required qualifications or experience – and the SABC failed to procure goods or services through fair procurement processes, as required by law.

These are some of the findings made by the Auditor-General in a final management report on the SABC earlier this year.

The report, dated March 31, is one of the documents that the SABC refused to hand over to the parliamentary ad hoc committee that is now looking into the corporation’s affairs.

The Auditor-General found that effective steps had not been taken to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, as the Public Finance and Management Act and Treasury regulations require.

And, as a result, “the full extent of the irregular expenditure could not be quantified”, the Auditor-General’s report said.

The Auditor-General, Alice Muller, told Parliament this week about documents detailing R141 million in expenditure that the Auditor-General’s office did not receive from the SABC.

“During the audit process, we hadn’t had any limitations on them refusing to give us documents, except for supply chain management,” Muller said.

The Auditor-General’s report also states that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure disclosed by the SABC did not reflect the full extent of wasteful expenditure. And disciplinary steps were not taken against officials who spent money in this wasteful way, as required by the act.

This week, SABC bosses snubbed the parliamentary inquiry, claiming the hearing was a predetermined affair and a kangaroo court. They also questioned the motives of some MPs on the committee.

The SABC refused to hand over 10 of the 15 documents the committee asked for, citing commercial sensitivities.

Through their lawyers, the SABC executives claimed that some documents were missing, including a management report responding to the Auditor-General’s findings, a document detailing internal audit committee meetings, as well as another document about the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the group executive for corporate affairs.

In the management report, the Auditor-General found that the SABC had no formal filing policies and procedures, which, Muller found, had led to a lack of controls to ensure all original documents were maintained and easily accessible.

Other “pertinent shortfalls”, the Auditor-General found, were that the SABC’s recruitment policy did not require competency assessments for skilled positions, nor were criminal record checks conducted on potential employees.

Citizenship verification was also not conducted because the SABC relies on identity documents.

A human resource management assessment found that people were hired for jobs that had not been advertised, and that new appointees did not have the required qualifications or experience. It also found that no performance management system was in place.

On March 31, it was recorded that the SABC’s overall vacancy rate increased from 3.1% in the 2014/15 financial year to 7.4% in 2015/16. The senior management vacancy rate during the same period rose from 8% to 14.7% and the vacancy rate at the finance division stood at 5.07%.

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme said it was concerning that this document hadn’t been tabled before the committee.

WHAT PARLIAMENT HEARD THIS WEEK

. Not one top executive at the SABC had been vetted, said former SABC head of risk management Itane Tsiesi.

. Former group executive officer Phil Molefe refused to sign a R500 000 salary hike for Motsoeneng.

. Motsoeneng allegedly said: “I told you this is not our man; I am going to Pretoria tonight.” This after Molefe refused to sign his R500 000 raise, as requested by then board chairperson Ben Ngubane.

. The Guptas wanted a stake in the SABC’s 24-hour news channel, said Molefe.

. Motsoeneng arrived with one of the Gupta brothers at the SABC, who was keen to do business with the SABC, said Molefe.

. The SABC wrote off R2 billion in outstanding TV licence fees, said former board member Krish Naidoo.

. The SABC board didn’t approve funds that Motsoeneng paid to artists, said Naidoo.

. The SABC board did not make decisions to defend Motsoeneng in court cases, said former board member Vusi Mavuso.

. Motsoeneng’s salary increases were not presented to the board, nor were the bonuses he received, said Mavuso.

. Communications Minister Faith Muthambi arrived at the SABC at about 11pm after the SABC board voted to appoint Motsoeneng as permanent chief operating officer, said Mavuso.

. The MultiChoice deal was pushed through by Motsoeneng when then group CEO Lulama Mokhobo was on leave, said Mokhobo.

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