Crunch time for SABC board, Mot­soe­neng

Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Mak­wetu com­plains of shoddy book­keep­ing prac­tices

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CRAIG DODDS

A CURSORY read­ing of the SABC’s an­nual re­port shows a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the fit­ness of the board to dis­charge its fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – as pro­posed by ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu this week – would have no trou­ble find­ing grounds to dis­solve the board, even be­fore it ad­dresses the ques­tion of Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng’s con­tro­ver­sial reap­point­ment.

Not only has the SABC racked up R5.1 bil­lion in to­tal ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, R441.2 mil­lion of it in the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year, and al­lowed Mot­soe­neng’s salary to bal­loon to an an­nual pack­age of R4.19m de­spite the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor find­ing his pre­vi­ous in­creases were ir­reg­u­lar, but it un­der­stated ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture to the tune of R35m, and failed to pro­vide sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion to ver­ify the dis­clo­sure of a fur­ther R141.3m in ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture.

It also re­vised fig­ures for ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture re­ported in pre­vi­ous years with­out check­ing whether or not sup­ply chain man­age­ment pro­cesses had been fol­lowed, lead­ing Au­di­tor-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu to com­plain that he was un­able to de­ter­mine whether any fur­ther ad­just­ments to ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture were nec­es­sary.

There was both fruit­less and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture that had not been declared in the fi­nan­cial state­ments, and ex­pen­di­ture in­cor­rectly clas­si­fied as fruit­less and waste­ful, again mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine whether fur­ther ad­just­ments to the dis­closed fig­ures were re­quired.

These shoddy book­keep­ing prac­tices formed the ba­sis for Mak­wetu’s qual­i­fied opin­ion.

In his notes on com­pli­ance with leg­is­la­tion, he said goods, works or ser­vices were not pro­cured through a process that The Right2Know cam­paign is march­ing in Cape Town to de­mand that com­pa­nies with­draw ad­ver­tis­ing from the SABC un­til steps are taken to ad­dress the cri­sis at the pub­lic broad­caster. was fair, eq­ui­table, trans­par­ent and com­pet­i­tive, as re­quired by the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age- ment Act. In terms of the act, the board is the ac­count­ing author­ity for the SABC and takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing that ad­e­quate sys­tems of in­ter­nal con­trol are in place.

Mak­wetu also noted dis­ci­plinary steps had not been taken against of­fi­cials who made and per­mit­ted ir­reg­u­lar, fruit­less and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture, as re­quired by the act.

The board faces a grilling by Par­lia­ment’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions over­sight com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day on what it has done to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port, When Gov­er­nance and Ethics Fail, in which she found not only that Mot­soe­neng had lied about his qual­i­fi­ca­tions when he ap­plied for a job at the SABC, but also ir­reg­u­larly in­flated the salaries of him­self and se­nior staff close to him, while he purged those op­posed to him, cost­ing the SABC a for­tune in set­tle­ment pay­ments.

Madon­sela rec­om­mended Mot­soe­neng be dis­ci­plined and the money wrong­fully spent re­cov­ered. After ini­tially re­sist­ing the in­struc­tion to hold a dis­ci­plinary in­quiry, the SABC ul­ti­mately did so after a judg­ment in the Western Cape High Court found it could not Mot­soe­neng was ab­solved by the in­quiry and there has never been an at­tempt to re­cover the money.

The com­mit­tee will also be ask­ing what ac­tions the board has taken in light of the Ap­peal Court judg­ment set­ting aside Mot­soe­neng’s ap­point­ment as chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer, and the pro­cesses it fol­lowed in sub­se­quently ap­point­ing him as group ex­ec­u­tive for cor­po­rate af­fairs.

Mean­while, nei­ther Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi, who was in Mau­ri­tius for a tele­vi­sion net­work­ing con­fer­ence, nor the SABC, has re­sponded to a cab­i­net in­struc­tion for Mot­soe­neng to be shown the door.

The SACP added its voice to the calls for Mot­soe­neng to go, as it wel­comed Mthembu’s call for a par­lia­men­tary in­quiry.

It said the SABC had “ef­fec­tively been gov­erned through court or­ders and out-of-court set­tle­ments”, many of which had sim­ply been ig­nored.

craig.dodds@inl.co.za

‘There was

PIC­TURE: CHANELLE MANUEL

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