Gupta New Age break­fasts cost SABC R20m

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

THE SABC has in­curred costs to­talling R20 mil­lion to­wards the broad­cast­ing of the con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness break­fasts of Gupta-owned com­pany and com­peti­tor, The New Age (TNA).

Brief­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions port­fo­lio com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, in­terim board chair­per­son Khany­isile Kweyama said the ex­pen­di­ture came to light de­spite SABC of­fi­cials hav­ing pre­vi­ously told Par­lia­ment they did not spend money on the TNA break­fasts.

“We were ini­tially ad­vised that it did not cost us any­thing, but we went to quan­tify. It ac­tu­ally cost us R20m to run th­ese break­fasts,” Kweyama said.

“TNA re­ceived the rev­enue and we have not.”

The rev­e­la­tion comes a week af­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Ayanda Dlodlo re­vealed that her depart­ment spent nearly R1 mil­lion on the busi­ness brief­ing in May last year dur­ing the tenure of her pre­de­ces­sor, Faith Muthambi.

This also vin­di­cates claims made by for­mer SABC jour­nal­ist Vuyo Mvoko, who gave ev­i­dence to an ad hoc com­mit­tee that SABC re­sources were di­verted to fund the TNA break­fasts and that the pub­lic broad­caster did not gen­er­ate any rev­enue from the brief­ings.

Th­ese claims were dis­puted by for­mer board chair­per­son Ben Ngubane, who said the break­fasts made good busi­ness sense and were at no cost to the SABC – a move that prompted a rec­om­men­da­tion to iden­tify those who lied dur­ing the in­quiry.

Yes­ter­day, Kweyama also said the in­terim board had heard there was a time when there was an of­fer to share prof­its be­tween the SABC and TNA, but that was ap­par­ently de­clined.

Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Humphrey Max­eg­wana re­acted with shock that the SABC had in­curred ex­pen­di­ture for the TNA break­fasts.

“We have been told, as this com­mit­tee, it is not cost­ing a cent, now it’s R20m. The per­son re­spon­si­ble for com­mu­ni­cat­ing that is the act­ing group CEO (James Aguma),” Max­eg­wana said yes­ter­day.

“He has been ly­ing to the com­mit­tee all the time. Surely all those is­sues will form part when you deal with that mat­ter,” he said.

Kweyama also told the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans that the TNA con­tract had been can­celled. “Even though the con­tract still has 11 months to run, we felt rep­u­ta­tion­ally for the SABC it was not good.”

She said the TNA break­fast that took place last Fri­day was the last.

The con­tract with TNA is among others that have been re­viewed and re­ferred to the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit (SIU) for in­ves­ti­ga­tion based on rec­om­men­da­tions by the ad hoc com­mit­tee.

“A list of con­tracts that need to be looked at has been handed over to the SIU,” Kweyama said.

The con­tract of Lorna Vi­sion for col­lec­tion of tele­vi­sion li­cences is among the im­pli­cated con­tracts.

Kweyama said Lorna Vi­sion had been ad­vised that the con­tract would not be re­newed, but the com­pany has taken the SABC to court.

It is de­mand­ing R19m, and the pub­lic broad­caster is op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, board mem­ber Kr­ish Naidoo said.

He said li­cence fee col­lec­tion was out­sourced de­spite the SABC hav­ing a fully fledged depart­ment of 164 em­ploy­ees.

Naidoo said Lorna Vi­sion had used SABC staff and re­sources to col­lect li­cence fees.

“The amount paid was R100m over a pe­riod of time. We think there was no ba­sis,” he said, adding that pub­lic fi­nance laws made the ex­ec­u­tive li­able for un­nec­es­sary con­tracts.

‘TNA re­ceived the rev­enue and we have not’

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