SABC board not divided over Mokoetle


At a press conference held at the Johannesburg head office of public broadcaster SABC on 13 January, chairperson of the newly appointed SABC board Dr Ben Ngubane categorically stated that there was no division within the board regarding new Group CEO Solly Mokoetle.

Appointed by the outgoing interim SABC board in December, Mokoetle took office on 1 January and subsequently faced a barrage of controversial media reports relating to the Goboda Report of 2005, which detailed alleged corporate governance failures

“There is no investigation into our new CEO,’ said Dr Ngubane. “Two previous SABC boards did not act on the Goboda Report, so why should we? The new board has to deal urgently with the issues raised by the Auditor-General. We want to work with everyone, particularly the independent producers, to sort out problems and for them to help bring SABC programming to an international standard.

“I plead that we put the problems behind us. People forget that our radio platforms have been working perfectly and profitably during these troubled times – the financial problems relate solely to TV.’

Chairperson of the interim board Irene Charnley said that R7m of the outstanding R10m debt owed to independent producers had been paid out, specifically to small and medium sized production companies owed amounts of R200 000.

Mokoetle, a former COO of the SABC, admitted his first week in office had been “a baptism of fire’. He stressed that the SABC intended to restore its relationship with producers as well as with advertisers. “We plan to put the independent production industry on its feet as they are critical partner of the SABC. My intention is to review the Content Hub’s RFPs (Requests for Proposals) system but that will have to be done under the broadcaster’s current financial constraints. I intend to meet with the industry soon to see how we can sort out the problems.’

Firstly, said Mokoetle, the SABC had to face its financial crisis and ensure its services deliver high quality product. “We need to restore the morale of the SABC who through all these problems have steadily performed their tasks. Further, we need to restore the mindset of a committed leadership to ensure their transparency and accountability. The collapse of SABC processes and systems need be looked at.’

The official handover between the interim board and the new board took place just prior to the press conference. Charnley noted that this was the first time in the SABC’s history that a handover meeting between two boards had taken place. “The handover meeting took place to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure the transparency and accountability of the new board,’ continued Charnley. “So now the new board can continue the process of turning the SABC around. We must not forget that we serve the needs of 24 million people who tune into the various SABC platforms for information, education and entertainment.’

Charnley went on to highlight the achievements of the interim board. “As at March 2009, the SABC’s deficit was just over R900m so the core focus was the securing of an additional R200m budget from Government and a government guarantee of R1.4bn. Based on this guarantee, the SABC has now entered into a five-year loan agreement with Nedbank, thus addressing liquidity concerns and significantly improving the stabilisation environment.’

During its sixth month tenure which ended on 9 January, the interim board resolved the wage dispute and impending strike by organised labour. It also resolved the impasse with former GCEO Dali Mpofu.

“Savings of at least R180m against the original budget were made through tight monitoring and control of expenditure and cost saving measures,’ noted Charnley. “Additionally we closed five further international news bureau and restored good corporate governance principles in line with recommendations from the Auditor General.’

Providing an update of the four senior executives who had been suspended by the interim board at the end of last year, Charnley said that both CFO Robin Nicholson and Head of Audience Services Anton Heunis had been given written warnings. Hearings for the remaining two executives will be held shortly. There are also two criminal cases which have been handed over to the South African Police Services.

Minister of Communications General (Retired) Siphiwe Nyanda was on hand during the handover to ensure a smooth handover between the two boards. At the press conference he thanked the interim board for their sterling work over the past six months. “They have performed beyond my expectations. The new board is in office for a period of five years. They were appointed by government through processes involving the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications. I personally have had no contact with them and wasn’t present during their interviews. As you may recall there was some political controversy during the selection process. My job is to ensure that they perform according to their mandate and restore the stature and integrity of the SABC.’


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here