AG report on SABC worries Communications Ministry

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cape Town - The Communications Ministry has expressed concern over the details of the report released by the Office of the Auditor-General on the financial and organisational affairs of the public broadcaster.

The report follows a request by Parliament for an audit to be conducted into the affairs of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The report found hundreds of millions of rands worth of irregular expenditure at the SABC over the last two years.

"As a shareholder, the Minister of Communications is concerned about the negative picture painted by the report," the communications ministry said in a statement.

"The Minister will, with immediate effect and working with other relevant stakeholders, introduce corrective measures that will seek to avert a recurrence of the current situation at the SABC."

The measures will be a combination of the shareholder's responsibilities through the shareholder compact agreement between the Ministry of Communications and the Public Broadcaster, findings and recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team, findings of previous audits carried out by the SABC and recommendations by the interim board of the SABC.

The Ministry further urged all parties concerned to cooperate with the disciplinary and legal processes that will unfold as recommended by the interim board of the SABC to ensure that this matter reaches its logical conclusion within the stipulated timelines.

"Where transgressions are found to have been committed, we urge law enforcement agencies to move swiftly in bringing the perpetrators to book," the ministry said.

The AG investigation, which looked into supply chain management, found evidence of hundreds of millions of rands in fruitless, wasteful and irregular spending at the SABC.

The 72-page report found irregularities in the awarding of seven tenders, valued at R174m, between September 2007 and June 2009.

There was also duplication of payments for the implementation of business software, which cost the SABC more than R200 million, and more than R10 million paid without legal contracts in place.

Among others the report also found that 20 employees at the broadcaster were directors or members of companies, which had received payments from the SABC to the amount of R3.4 million.

The measures that the communications ministry hopes to introduce includes a thorough assessment of the authority allocated to executive and senior managers, a review of human resource policies and a review of the policies governing the involvement of employees in private business.

The ministry said it would now request monthly management accounts from the SABC and scrutinise all previous reports of the AG on the broadcaster.

"This, we hope, will assist the Ministry in understanding the reasons it took such a long time for this sad state of affairs to surface."

As a result of the report, board member Leslie Sedibe had been appointed to coordinate disciplinary actions on behalf of the board. He has indicated that letters of demand would be sent to suppliers by the end of the week.