Hlaudi hits storm clouds
SABC moves to recoup millions of lost rand
AS AXED SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng headed to the CCMA yesterday to seek recourse, his case appeared to take a turn for the worst.
Moments after the disgraced former chief operating officer failed to reach an agreement with his former employer at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, yesterday, it emerged that the SABC interim board had instituted legal proceedings to recoup the millions of rand it lost during his disastrous tenure.
Motsoeneng’s lawyer, Zola Majavu, said yesterday the case is now headed for arbitration.
The SABC is also gunning for Motsoeneng’s right hand man, former chief financial officer, James Aguma, as it seeks to recover the millions it lost in advertisement revenue, among others, during the pair’s turbulent tenure.
Chairperson of the SABC interim board Khanyisile Kweyama said they had sought a legal opinion on the liability of board members and group executives.
The action sought would see the SABC recovering the monies it lost from the executives who “knowingly participate in the making of decisions or accede to decisions being made which are contrary to the policies of the corporation, principles of corporate governance”, in breach of legislation.
“Proceedings have commenced to exercise a lien over pension payments due to Messrs Aguma and Motsoeneng and arrangements are under way to institute urgent legal action if necessary,” said Kweyama yesterday.
Kweyama was updating Parliament’s portfolio committee on communication on their progress in implementing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board, which the National Assembly adopted in March.
The Star reported last month that the SABC was concerned that delays by President Jacob Zuma to sign a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) proclamation to probe the rot at the cash-strapped public broadcaster could see Motsoeneng cashing in on his pension millions.
Without the proclamation, it would be difficult for the broadcaster to recover the money.
Motsoeneng hiked his own pay from R1.5 million to R2.4m in one year. He also got paid R11.4m for negotiating the controversial R533m deal with MultiChoice, which gave the private broadcaster access to the SABC’s archive.
Yesterday, Parliament ratcheted up the pressure on Zuma to sign the SIU proclamation that will pave the way for a probe into several contracts awarded at the SABC, including those during Motsoeneng’s tenure.
One ANC MP suggested that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the leader of government business, and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, be roped in to ensure the proclamation was signed.
This was as Kweyama explained some of the irregularities.
She said irregularly awarded contracts with Lorna Vision, for television licence fee collection, and The New Age newspaper, for business breakfasts, had been terminated.
The contract with Sekela Xabiso was on suspension and another with MultiChoice was under review.
“The remaining questionable contracts identified by the ad hoc committee have been referred to the SIU for forensic investigation,” Kweyama said.
However, the SIU has yet to undertake its work while waiting for Zuma to sign the proclamation.
“We have been checking on regular basis what the progress is. We have set an office so that by the time proclamation is passed, we don’t have to gather documentation,” Kweyama said.
This did not sit well with some parliamentarians , who said answers must be obtained if there is no proclamation by the end of August.
The ANC’s Mziwamadoda Kalako said it was important that the SIU start working because people in the wrong were given leeway otherwise.
The ACDP’s Steve Swart said the challenge was beyond the SABC’s capacity and the SIU could not do anything until its authorisation was granted.
“It is three months that we have waited for the proclamation. It obviously inhibits winding up recommendations because SIU can’t act in the meantime.”
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi accused Zuma of delaying restoration of stability in the SABC and affecting work commissioned by Parliament.
“Most importantly he is delaying justice because there is evidence of wrong contracts,” Ndlozi said.
“It is unacceptable, maybe he is implicated... as Parliament to express ourselves that it is three months. Why not sign an urgent proclamation?” he asked.
The DA’s Phumzile van Damme echoed the same sentiments. “It is very concerning that the president appears to be sitting on this proclamation... It might be worth sending a letter to the president (asking) ‘when are you to approve the proclamation?’”
The ANC’s Sisisi Tolashe said it was an untenable situation if there was no timeframe for signing of proclamation. “If there are no timeframes, how can the leader of government business (Ramaphosa) assist?”
She also said the delays in signing the proclamation fed into perceptions that the government was corrupt and did not respect timeframes despite good work done through investigations.
The MPs also demanded Mbete furnish the committee with the report containing names of people who misled the ad hoc committee during its inquiry.
The report was prepared by the legal services and is now in Mbete’s office.
President appears to be sitting on this proclamation
FOCUS: Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma are in the spotlight.