TSUNAMI SWEEPS THE SABC

Four deny SIU ten­der probe spooked them into re­sign­ing

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BONGANI NKOSI [email protected]

THE SABC board mem­bers who re­signed have ex­pressed shock that the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit (SIU) is prob­ing them over an al­legedly ir­reg­u­larly awarded R185 mil­lion se­cu­rity ten­der.

“It was cu­ri­ous for our clients to hear that they were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated…” their lawyer Te­bogo Malatji told The Star yes­ter­day.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa has ac­cepted res­ig­na­tions of Khany­isile Kweyama, John Mati­sonn, Mathatha Tsedu and Kr­ish Naidoo. The four sent their res­ig­na­tion let­ters to Ramaphosa this week.

Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa’s spokesper­son, con­firmed that the res­ig­na­tions were with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

“The pres­i­dent has re­ceived and ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tions. The pres­i­dent will write to Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker (Baleka Mbete) to in­form her of the va­can­cies that now ex­ist in the board of the SABC,” Diko told The Star yes­ter­day.

The res­ig­na­tions brings to eight the num­ber of va­can­cies. Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Rachel Kal­i­dass, Vic­tor Ram­bau quit the board some months ago and Nomvuy­iso Batyi never took up the po­si­tion.

The SABC’s board meet­ings would no longer quo­rate fol­low­ing the four res­ig­na­tions.

Chair­per­son of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mit­tee Hlengiwe Mkhize could not be reached for com­ment.

Malatji de­nied that the res­ig­na­tions of his clients were over the SIU’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“There is no link be­tween the cur­rent news of res­ig­na­tions and the SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

The stand taken by the four has found sup­port with the EFF, which al­leged the mass res­ig­na­tions were over Ramaphosa’s non-com­mit­tal to grant­ing the cash-strapped SABC a guar­an­tee.

More than a 1 000 SABC em­ploy­ees faced re­trench­ment.

“The ma­jor­ity of the board mem­bers will re­sign, be­cause there is no sup­port from gov­ern­ment in terms of the guar­an­tee. They have lit­er­ally been set up to fail,” said the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi.

Diko re­jected al­le­ga­tions that Ramaphosa was not keen to grant the pub­lic broad­caster a guar­an­tee. “The guar­an­tee is still un­der dis­cus­sion with Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter (Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams),” added Diko.

The SIU in­formed the four newly re­signed board mem­bers and Potgieter-Gqubule re­cently that it was it in­ves­ti­gat­ing them over the con­tract that SABC awarded to Mafoko Se­cu­rity last year.

It emerged that the con­tract was awarded to Mafoko though it was ranked sec­ond in the bid­ding process. Mafoko’s bid was also R2 mil­lion more ex­pen­sive than that of the high­est-scor­ing bid­der, Mjayeli Se­cu­rity. The board was also ac­cused of ig­nor­ing its own le­gal ad­vice not to award the ten­der to Mafoko.

Along with Potgieter-Gqubule, who left the board for an ANC post this year, the four were mem­bers of an in­terim board that awarded the con­tro­ver­sial con­tract.

“We are all unan­i­mous in be­ing sat­is­fied (that there was) no im­pro­pri­ety at­tached to the de­ci­sion, and it was us who re­ferred it to the SIU,” Mati­sonn told The Star.

DA spokesper­son for com­mu­ni­ca­tions Phumzile van Damme im­plied that the re­cent res­ig­na­tions were linked to the Mafoko con­tract. “We are aware of the in­terim board mem­bers’ im­pli­ca­tion in the SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the award­ing of a se­cu­rity ten­der, which was found to have been awarded ir­reg­u­larly.”

Mjayeli di­rec­tor Jones Mapha­laphathwa, who, in court pa­pers ac­cused the in­terim board of wrong­do­ing, yes­ter­day ex­pressed his sat­is­fac­tion at the lat­est turn of events.

A re­cent meet­ing be­tween the SABC and unions at the CCMA was can­celled ap­par­ently due to pro­ce­dures not be­ing sat­is­fac­tory. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers Union’s Aubrey Tsha­bal­ala said it was resched­uled for next week

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A FIRE broke out on Lon­don Road in the Alexan­dra town­ship in Joburg yes­ter­day de­stroy­ing sev­eral homes, leav­ing many res­i­dents home­less. | Nh­lanhla Phillips African News Agency ANA

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