Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Message from the SOS Coordinator

Hello all

Happy New Year! Hope 2010 is a great year for public broadcasting.

As I am sure you are all aware 2010 has started with a bang but not for all the most positive reasons. Controversy has hit the SABC from the get-go. As you will have seen from articles in the Sunday Times, Business Day etc. allegations have been made that members of the new permanent board are unhappy with the appointment of the GCEO, Solly Mokoetle. According to the Sunday Times new Board members would have preferred to make the GCEO appointment themselves.

Further, a forensic audit report - known as the Gobodo Report commissioned in 2005 - has suddenly been leaked to the press . According to the Sunday Times the Gobodo report includes serious allegations against Solly in terms of failure to implement good corporate governance practices at the SABC during his tenure at the Corporation.

I have spoken to a number of people including members of the interim board, new board and independent producers. From these discussions the following has emerged:

- The interim board followed standard labour practices as regards the appointment of Solly.
- The Gobodo Report was commissioned by the SABC Board in 2005. Board member Christine Qunta played an active role. The mandate of the report was to look at corruption in commissioning practices at the SABC. Allegations were made against a number of independent production houses and a number of internal SABC staff. Solly was one of the many people named in the report. He took the allegations against him to the labour court and was exonerated.
- The Gobodo Report was never publically released. it was never entirely clear what the allegations were in terms of a number of individuals and companies. The charge sheets were never given to the accused.

In response to the issues outlined above SOS has stated the following:

- We think it would have been more ideal for the new board to have made the appointment of the new GCEO to ensure the best possible working relationship between themselves and management. That being said however, SOS welcomes Solly's appointment.
- To make sure that Solly does not start with any black cloud's over his head the new board needs to go back to the Gobodo Report. They need to satisfy themselves - and the general public - that there are no outstanding issues in this regard. If there are outstanding issues then these need to be appropriately dealt with.
- However, if there are no outstanding issues then Solly and the Board must make sure that they do not get unnecessarily diverted by the Report. There are enormous issues to deal with including the entire turn-around of the SABC.

What do people think?

Just one further issue - I attended the MK Military Veterans and CWU press conference this morning at Luthuli House dealing with Solly's appointment. The MK veterans and CWU spokespeople confirmed their support for Solly. They claimed that he had excellent broadcasting experience. They argued that his appointment by the interim board was entirely appropriate, fair and transparent.

Kate Skinner
SOS - Coordinator
SOS - Supporting Public Broadcasting, previously "Save our SABC" --
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