Against the background of the dire financial situation in which the Sithengi Film and TV Market has been placed (see screenafrica.com newsletter 35/2007), a positive note was struck with the election of a new Sithengi board at a second special general meeting on Friday 16 November 2007.
The election of new board members followed the resignation of the old board which comprised the main funders of Sithengi, namely the National Film & Video Foundation (NFVF), SABC, Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) and the Department of Communication (DoC) as one industry representative.
The following 15 industry members were elected as new Sithengi board members:
Dorothy Brislin, Harriet Gavshon, Nicola Rauch, Richard Nosworthy, Firdoze Bulbulia, Faith Isiakpere, Judi Nwokedi, Mariam Sha, David Forbes, Bobby Amm, Dezi Rorich, Lebone Maema, Carolyn Carew, Cathrine Meyburgh and Zeletu Nondumo.
According to the articles of association of the Film and TV Market Initiative section 24 company t/a Sithengi, the board should be comprised of a minimum of 7 and a maximum of 15 members. It was decided at the general meeting to limit the number of board members to 15 to allow for co-opting further board members at a later stage if necessary.
Eddie Mbalo, the former chairman of Sithengi and CEO of the NFVF presented a legal opinion by attorney Mark Rosin on the standing of Sithengi. Rosin’s letter addressed to Mbalo opens with the words “I refer to the newsletter 35/2007 published by Screenafrica.com as well as a letter from Sithengi’s auditors, Nexia Cape Town of 17 September 2007.’ He then goes on to say that he has “not had an opportunity to examine the accounts of Sithengi, the various agreements with debtors or conducted a due diligence in respect of (the) status or as to the prospects of success in being able to recover amounts which are owed. I therefore send this to you with those caveats and simply as a starting point from which we may explore the matter further.’
The letter goes on to say that “the members need to decide whether they need to wind up the affairs of the company in its current circumstances. This means a critical and clear look at the opportunities of recovery in relation to monies owed to Sithengi. If there are realistic opportunities, then these should be followed without delay. If not, then the company must be placed into liquidation …
“Against that background and given that there is a sentiment of members wishing to retain the name and continue working for the good of the Festival and Market and the company in general, I think that it would be prudent to hand over the reigns to a board of directors which would be charged with and would undertake this activity with vigour.’
It was raised at the meeting that If the SABC pays its outstanding debt of approximately R800,000 and the National Lotteries Board (NLB) honours its undertaking to pay a final instalment of R1.9m, then Sithengi will be placed on a sound financial footing. The NLB has, however, contested its obligation to pay on the basis that Sithengi did not comply with the terms of the agreement and had failed to properly account for the funds provided by the NLB.
The new board agreed to meet at the earliest opportunity to elect a chairperson and to plan Sithengi’s future direction.