SABC 2017/18 annual report reveals top management still earned highly inflated salaries and a public broadcaster technically insolvent

Please find attached a soundbite in English by DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) 2017/18 annual report tabled in Parliament, without the usual press conference and announcement from the public broadcaster, reveals that for the year ending in March 2018, the SABC’s top management still earned highly inflated salaries.

The report also reveals a public broadcaster that is commercially insolvent and received a disclaimed audit opinion from the Auditor-General.

The A-G found that the SABC only achieved 40% of its targets and:

  • Irregular expenditure balance: R5 billion, incurred in 2017/18: R571 million
  • Fruitless and wasteful balance: R230 million, incurred in 2017/18: R84 million
  • Financial loss for the year: R622 million
  • Cash flow for the year: -R1.2 billion

Top management for the year ending 31 March 2018, earned exactly the same inflated salaries of the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era with the basic salaries of the GCEO being R6.5 million, the CFO R4.1 million and the COO, R2.7 million. Group Executives salaries range from R3.8 million (GE: Head of Television), to R3.5 million (GE: Risk and Governance).

In a statement earlier this week, the SABC indicated that “we would like to place on record that the salaries of the recently appointed executive board members and executive management have been significantly reduced...” and refused to reveal the amount of the reduced salaries.

This would mean GCEO and CFO hired in June 2018, may have received reduced salaries, and the COO, Chris Maroleng appointed January 2018, earned the same salary as Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

It is utterly baffling why the SABC will not reveal the reduced salaries of its top management. Reduced salaries should be a source of pride and a way to build confidence that the era of SABC management feeding at the trough has come to an end.

The DA will not let the matter rest.

We have started a “Struggling SABC Monitor” which will run until the SABC reveals the amount that its top honchos earn. As the public broadcaster, this is not confidential information and should be released publicly.

We are committed to ending the days of the SABC being a piggy bank to fill the pockets of the SABC’s management. The secrecy around the salaries only serves to create fears that the feeding at the trough continues. We implore the SABC to put our, and the public’s fears to rest.

DA calls on SABC to reveal top management salaries

Please find attached a soundbite in English by DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

In a statement yesterday, the SABC stated that “we would like to place on record that the salaries of the recently appointed executive board members and executive management have been significantly reduced...”

However, the “significantly reduced” salaries are not revealed.

This follows a request I made for the SABC’s top management to undergo a process of salary review based on the extraordinarily high salaries the SABC’s top management earned in the 2016/17 financial year. Most of the salaries were highly inflated, a legacy of Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s irregular annual salary increases.

I also requested that top management take salary cuts, where necessary, in solidarity with SABC staff who have been asked to implement austerity measures.

In order to play open cards with the public, we call on the SABC to reveal its top management salaries from GCEO down to Group Executives.

This is not confidential information, as the SABC is a public institution and their salaries are a matter of public record.

In order to ease concerns that the upper echelons of the SABC continue to live the high life, while staff face the possibility of retrenchment, the SABC must reveal the salaries for public scrutiny and to confirm that austerity measures do apply across the SABC.

We trust that the SABC will, in the public interest, reveal this information.

SABC top management must take the lead in austerity measures by reviewing and taking salary cuts

Please find attached a soundbite in English by DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

The DA is aware of a memo circulated to South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) staff indicating a freeze on salary increases and the hiring of new staff.

It is bizarre that this part of the SABC’s turnaround strategy was not presented to Parliament.

While it may save costs, the DA challenges the SABC’s management to take the lead in demonstrating austerity by reviewing their salaries and taking cuts, where necessary.

It is no secret that the SABC’s top management receive extraordinarily high salaries, a legacy of former COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s overly inflated annual increases. At one stage Motsoeneng earned more than the State President.

The SABC’s 2016/17 annual report reveals that at March 2017, the SABC’s top management basic salaries were:

  • GCEO: R6.5 million
  • CFO: R4.1 million
  • COO: R2.7 million (including R11 million bonus for the “Multichoice deal”)
  • Group Executives: salaries range from R3.8 million (GE: Head of Television), to R3.5 million (GE: Risk and Governance)

It is unclear what packages the new top management were offered, and whether they still continue to be paid Hlaudi salaries. As such, an independent body must review all SABC top management salaries and place them at market value.

To demonstrate goodwill and unity with staff, top management ought to commit to not only freezing in their own salaries, and not resist any advice to reduce their salaries after the review is undertaken.

This will demonstrate to SABC staff, many of whom must be under severe stress, worried that they may be retrenched and not receive their annual inflation-related salary increases, that management is taking the lead.

The DA is committed to assisting in building an SABC that is not only independent and impartial but is able to bring its finances from the red to the black.

SABC has no money to pay legal fees owed to the DA for Hlaudi cases

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

The SABC’s lawyers have informed the Democratic Alliance (DA) that the public broadcaster cannot pay the full outstanding amounts due to the DA as per the cost orders awarded, pursuant to litigation which it lost, as “they are not in the position to pay the full amount at this time”. The costs relate to various cases it defended to keep Hlaudi Motsoeneng employed at the SABC.

In total, the SABC owes the DA approximately R1.7 million for costs related to Mr Motsoeneng’s litigation.

The correspondence between the SABC’s legal team and the DA comes on the heels of other letters the public broadcaster was forced to send to its service providers and producers stating that it would not be able to pay them for the month of July.

The fact that the SABC is unable to pay its bills and its outstanding legal fees is a clear indication that the public broadcaster is on the verge of insolvency.

In the public interest, the DA will consider a payment plan for the SABC to pay back the money owed and has invited the SABC to come with a suitable proposal.

It is no secret that the SABC’s financial distress stems from the years of political interference, financial mismanagement, maladministration and corruption. It was particularly during Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s tenure at the public broadcaster that SABC was almost sent over the edge.

From the outset, the DA held that he was not fit for office . That is why the DA fought to have Mr Motsoeneng’s toxic influence removed from the public broadcaster. The SABC knew this as well, but continued to engage in endless litigation to protect Mr Motsoeneng.

The DA maintains that the SABC should hold Hlaudi personally liable for the frivolous legal battles he dragged the broadcaster in and which he purposefully prolong at the expense of the taxpayer.

The SABC should get back to the business of informing and entertaining the public and restoring its image as a world-class public broadcaster.

SABC spent over half a million on travel costs for officials to testify, or not, before SABC Inquiry

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Miniter of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP

The SABC spent more than R680 000 on the travel costs of board members and officials who were supposed to testify before the Ad Hoc Committee on SABC Board Inquiry, some of whom refused to testify, referring to it as a “kangaroo court”.

This is according to a reply to a DA Parliamentary question.

The SABC forked out over R20 000 on flights and accommodation for former COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and more than R31 000 on the travel costs of former CEO, James Aguma.

Some of the other estimated travel costs the SABC covered, include:

  • R183 000  for former SABC Chairman, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe;
  • R100 000 for former SABC company secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys; and
  • R34 000 for SABC company secretary, Lindiwe Bayi

Some of the hotels the officials stayed at include the five-star African Pride Crystal Towers and the Hilton Hotel in Cape Town. Clearly, no expense was spared for these extended hotel stays.

In the reply, the financially distressed SABC stated that it would not recover these monies from individuals who did not attend the Inquiry. This means that the public essentially footed the bill for a luxury holiday in Cape Town for people who destroyed a once world-class public broadcaster.

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the SABC Board, Bongumusa Makhathini, to request that the SABC recoup the costs from all individuals who travelled to Cape Town for the SABC Inquiry, but refused to testify, or walked out. The SABC must recover the monies to individuals who brought the public broadcaster to its knees.

The SABC is facing financial ruin and every cent that has been unduly spent on compromised individuals must be returned to the public broadcaster.

SABC has spent R22 million on Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s legal fees

The SABC has spent over R22 million to pay for the legal costs of its former Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, a reply to a DA parliamentary question reveals.
In the reply, former Communications Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, reveals that the public broadcaster has since 2013 paid millions of rands in legal fees for Motsoeneng and the amount “might increase as other matters are ongoing”.
Some of the legal fees include, but are not limited to action taken by:

  • SABC News anchor Vuyo Mvoko – R1 186 184
  • Former SABC head of news, Verona Duwarkah – R505 985
  • Helen Suzman Foundation – R1 659 490
  • Democratic Alliance – R5 370 828
  • Various Board Matters – R4 990 985

This R22 million by far exceeds the R15 million taxpayers have had to fork out on former President Jacob Zuma’s legal fees.
Just like the other litigious delinquent, Jacob Zuma, Motsoeneng must pay this money back to the public purse.
The public should not have to pay for this one man wrecking ball’s legal fees.
In addition to the R21 million the Special Investigating Unit is pursuing in Motseoneng’s debt to the SABC, this R22 million must be added, making what he owes R43 million. Every single cent must be recovered from him.
Hlaudi left a trail of destruction in his wake. He flouted policy processes; demoralised, victimised and purged staff; brought the SABC’s newsroom into disrepute and left the public broadcaster on the brink of collapse.
The DA calls on the SABC to personally hold Hlaudi responsible for this excessive amount of money, that can be much better spent on paying off its debts, investing in content development, finding new talent, informing and educating the public, and restoring the SABC’s image as a credible and reliable news source.

SIU confirms Hlaudi Motsoeneng owes the SABC over R21 million

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has today confirmed that it has issued a summons against the disgraced former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for more than R21 million he owes the SABC.
Today in Parliament’s Communications Committee, the SIU confirmed that the R21 million includes an R11.4 million “success fee” Motsoeneng received for the so-called MultiChoice “archives deal” and an additional R10.5 million in damages related to the irregular appointment and dismissal of staff.
It is to be welcomed that action against Motsoeneng continues.
It cannot be that individuals like Motsoeneng loot public institutions, resign or are dismissed and there is no further action. All stolen money must be returned to the public purse. We, therefore, welcome the SIU’s action in this regard.
The tide is now finally turning for Motsoeneng and the self-proclaimed “organic intellectual”.
The DA further notes that the SIU is currently investigating 8 of the contracts identified as dodgy during the SABC Ad Hoc Inquiry. This also includes the questionable R460 million contract with Multichoice.
Motsoeneng is however not the only person implicated in the SABC Ad Hoc Inquiry report. Compromised individuals such as James Aguma and especially Minister Faith Muthambi must also be prosecuted for any wrongdoing.
The SIU plans to hand over the Interim Presidential Report on their investigations into these dodgy contracts to the Office of the President on 31 May 2018.  The DA looks forward to receiving the final findings from the SIU in order for it to be scrutinised by the public and bring all those implicated to book.

Rachel Kalidass’s resignation is a sign that the bad times are back at the SABC

Rachel Kalidass’s resignation this morning from the SABC board is a definitive sign that it is back to “business as usual” at the public broadcaster.
In a letter to Parliament this morning Kalidass cites victimisation by fellow board members following her objection to a “…CEO candidate having allegations of fraud and corruption levelled against him during his previous employment, as well as a conflict of interest with a significant SABC content service provider” being supported by the majority of board members to head the public broadcaster.
Although Kalidass does not name the candidate in her letter, the DA revealed this morning, after being informed by several whistleblowers, that it is Alan Mukoki, the former CEO of the Land Bank, who is wholly unsuitable and inappropriate for the position.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications is scheduled to meet with the SABC on Friday, 24 November 2017 in Johannesburg. Given Kalidass’s resignation, the DA will request that this meeting be brought forward and the issues she raises be immediately addressed before any further damage is done.
Whether the ANC will be as seized about arresting the decline at the SABC remains to be seen, particularly given the tacit support for the re-capture of the SABC, as exhibited over the last few weeks.
It is deeply worrying that the decline at the SABC is following the same pattern as it did with the previous board. A candidate in Hlaudi Motsoeneng was forced through despite objections from some board members, some board members resignation or where dismissed following their objections, resulting in a terminal downward spiral culminating in the SABC inquiry.
The SABC is showing all the signs of going down that same road unless the decline is arrested immediately.

DA welcomes that SIU can finally begin SABC investigation

The DA welcomes the signing of the proclamation allowing the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to begin a forensic investigation at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Although three months late, President Jacob Zuma’s signing of the proclamation means that the SIU can now finally begin to do the work that will reveal the true extent of corruption, maladministration and unlawful conduct at the SABC likely implicating former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi; former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng; former SABC CEO, James Aguma and indeed, the Gupta family.
We encourage the SIU to conduct its work speedily and without fear or favour and to be a bulwark against any attempts at political interference during its investigations.
It is unfortunate that the President took so long to sign the proclamation and appears only to have done so today, given that he would have been forced to answer for the delay during Oral Questions to the President next week.
For too long the SABC has lurched from crisis to crisis and served as a piggy bank for corrupt ANC-linked individuals and politicians. We trust the SIU’s investigation will reveal the true depths of the rot at the SABC, the SABC inquiry only scratched the surface. We look forward to the outcome of the SIU’s investigation.

DA urges Frolik to ensure Committee dealing with Muthambi corruption allegations goes ahead, despite ANC stalling

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee meeting on Public Service and Administration scheduled for tomorrow, 23 August 2017, was cancelled late last night, with no reasons given.
This is clearly a move by the ANC committee members to close ranks around Minister Faith Muthambi to prevent her from accounting for the long list of corruption related scandals that she has been embroiled in.
The DA will, therefore, write to the Chair of Chairs, Cedric Frolick, to request that he ensures that the committee convenes and the meeting continues as scheduled tomorrow.
This meeting has been cancelled undoubtedly because last week, former Chairperson, Dr Makhosi Khoza, confirmed that the meeting was quorate and that there were enough members to make decisions.
A decision was taken by the Committee that both the Minister and her Director General should be summoned to appear before the Committee after they failed to show up, despite the Minister being in Cape Town that morning. Additionally, it was also decided that both the Minister and her Director General be held personally responsible for the costs associated with their absence at the Committee.
It has now become apparent that the ANC does not want to keep the Minister accountable and this cancellation is a blatant attempt to not enforce the previous meeting’s resolutions.
The Minister was invited by the former Chairperson, Dr Khosa, to account for:

  • Spending taxpayer money on transporting her family to watch her Parliamentary speech totalling more than R300 000 on the 15th of August 2017. Recent reports have stated that the figure may be as high as R500 000 which only confirm that this must be fully investigated by the committee so that the appropriate action can be taken against her.
  • Her bloated personal office totalling 27 people, despite the Ministerial Handbook only making provision for 10. The Minister has allegedly hired family and friends to her office including Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s 21-year-old daughter Lerato is now her admin assistant.

The ANC’s sudden removal of Dr Khoza as Committee Chair was to ensure that Muthambi can continue to act without consequences for flagrantly abusing taxpayers money.
However, we have a continued responsibility to keep the executive accountable no matter who the Chairperson or members are and this committee meeting must go ahead.