Thursday, January 7, 2010

Open Letter to the New SABC Board

The recent references in the press to the much maligned Gobodo audit report have prompted us to issue this open letter.

The Gobodo report was initiated by a SABC Board chaired by Eddie Funde and his deputy Christine Qunta. Although the terms of reference were never openly articulated, our understanding is that the forensic audit enquiry was set up to investigate claims by individuals within the SABC of irregularities and collusion in the SABC’s commissioning process. The enquiry was undertaken at great expense to the public and exacted a heavy toll on those being investigated inside and outside the SABC.

The individuals and companies interviewed during the investigation were never formally advised of any allegations against them nor given an opportunity to read the report or to defend themselves. However the report was presented to the Funde Board – a report which we understand contained a number of unfounded allegations and innuendo.

Along with the infighting within the SABC over the past eight years or so, we have seen a period where character assassination entered into our political culture. We believe that the Gobodo report has been put to sinister use and continues to be used for dubious ends.

We wonder whether the resurrection of this report is not yet another attempt to divert our attention away from the findings of the recent AG report which deals with the disarray that the SABC found itself in at the end of the Funde/Qunta reign.

It is a pity that the new SABC Board and GCEO are having their attention side-tracked by a five year old report that apparently deals with conspiracy theories. They should rather get stuck into the task of rebuilding the teetering public broadcaster, which still has a huge debt outstanding to the production industry and is in desperate need of new content and morale.

The real issue at hand is that the Board needs to tell the public and the industry what it will be doing about the 2009 forensic report of the AG. We understand that the AG’s findings ultimately raise questions about the legally binding fiduciary responsibilities of the previous two Boards.

We call on the SABC Board to put the chapter of conspiracy theories (and reign by fear and rumour) of the institution’s history behind us and do either of the following: Get legal opinion and act upon the report if there is substance (thereby allowing the respondents a fair and legally transparent process) OR openly declare the enquiry and the subsequent report as flawed and invalid.

Charl: 082-6813680

This statement is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).