TSUNAMI SWEEPS THE SABC
Four deny SIU tender probe spooked them into resigning
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
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