Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Private eye at SABC offices

Officials from the auditor-general’s office have set up shop at the SABC’s headquarters in Auckland Park to investigate allegations of widespread mismanagement and corruption. by Buddy Naidu
A team of investigators has occupied the broadcaster’s fourth-floor offices since last Monday after being ordered by Parliament’s portfolio committee to probe the litany of allegations.

The financial and managerial crisis at the organisation eventually saw the previous board dissolved in June. Now the auditor-general’s office has three months to investigate claims made by:

# The former board and its chair Kanyisiwe Mkonza against management;

# Unions, who compiled a dossier alleging a litany of improprieties, corruption and the flouting of fiduciary duties by both the board and management;

# Senior members of management as well as former CEO Dali Mpofu against the board; and

# The interim board and the portfolio committee.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said the investigators were receiving “full co-operation” from management, with staff being encouraged to participate.

“Staff and anyone with information are encouraged to interact with them via a special e-mail account that has been set up, while boxes have been allocated for those who wish to provide information anonymously,” he said.

He said the probe was expected to last until the end of this month, after which a report would be tabled before the communications committee in Parliament.

A spokesman for the Auditor-General, Africa Boso, said he was unable to comment on the investigations.

In March, the SABC announced pre-tax losses of under R800-million and it has since gone cap in hand to government for a R2.4-billion bailout.

Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda also announced, soon after the dissolution of the board, plans to create a new funding model for the broadcaster.

Nyanda told Parliament that he had approached Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to form a team to “effect the turnaround”.

He also announced a proposal to radically increase state funding for the SABC.

At present, the broadcaster’s advertising revenues account for about 80%, with the state contributing only 2% and the rest coming from licence fees.

This week Nyanda announced an 11% licence tariff increase — from R225 to R250 — effective as from the beginning of this month.

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