South Africa’s SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition has released the following
statement reacting to the fact that the Auditor General has given a Disclaimer to public
broadcaster SABC’s 2012/2013 Annual Report.
The SOS statement reads: SOS is dismayed by the unabated financial mismanagement
of SABC that was revealed recently in Parliament. SABC’s board tabled its 2012/2013
Annual Report which included a financial Disclaimer from the Auditor General as a result
of the broadcaster having spent R1.58bn without proper procedures or documentation.
The Annual Report revealed no evidence of the collection of TV licence fees worth
Further to this, SABC CEO, Lulama Mokhobo, revealed that the SABC had missed its
performance targets as set out in the R1.47bn guarantee it was granted by government
in 2009 to secure a commercial loan.
The Auditor General has given the SABC’s financials a Disclaimer indicating that the
finances and financial controls are in disarray to the point that it cannot form an opinion
on the SABC’s financial statement. This is a further downgrading from last year’s
financial report that gave the SABC a Qualified Audit.
This flies in the face of assurances by the SABC’s executive management that the
financial situation at the SABC had substantially improved and that an indication of this
is the corporation’s ability to repay its government guaranteed commercial loan of
R1.47bn well-ahead of schedule. The SOS Coalition notes with dismay that the SABC
seems incapable of learning lessons from previous crises.
In 2009 the SABC was given a government guarantee to allow it to deal with a serious
cash-flow crisis that had resulted from huge financial losses (close to R1bn) in the
2008/2009 financial year. The Auditor General at the time called for sound leadership
and strong financial systems going forward. The government guarantee then stipulated
a number of targets that the SABC must meet in terms of increased revenue and
reduction of expenses. It seems that these systems and targets have been essentially
In light of the above, ongoing crisis, the SOS Coalition calls for the following strong
For the Joint Task Team established by Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim and
led by the Auditor General, to establish the necessary financial and reporting systems
required by the SABC.
For the SABC to be considered an entity under administration and for the Joint Task
Team to be given the requisite mandate and powers to put in place appropriate and
proper administrative and financial controls and ensure their enforcement.
For SABC management and the interim Board to be held strongly accountable for the
Disclaimer audit and for action to be taken against all those who have not fulfilled their
fiduciary duties. For instance SABC management made a number of promises to
Parliament after the Corporation received a qualified audit for its 2011/2012 financials.
Parliament must follow up on each of these promises.
The SOS Coalition notes that the financial mismanagement at the SABC has very direct
implications for viewers and listeners. The unabated qualified audits and, now, Disclaimer
from the Auditor General severely compromise the SABC’s ability to motivate for more
public funding for public programming than the mere 3% it receives from National
Treasury. Further, the continued financial and auditing scandals that seem to
consistently rock the SABC erode public confidence in the broadcaster, frustrating its
ability to collect on TV Licenses fees which stand as, perhaps, the single most significant
marker of how much the public value their public broadcaster.
While it fails to face up to financial scrutiny unsullied, the SABC will never be able to
regain public confidence and, in turn, greater investment into public programming – its
lifeblood and very raison d’etre. South Africa deserves an SABC that works.
The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders committed
to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-interest programming
aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The Coalition includes a number of trade
union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions
including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector
organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs
and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring
Africa (MMA), and a number of academics and freedom of expression