Sunday, February 28, 2010


The SABC have released this statement:

Johannesburg, 26 February 2010 – The Board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), this afternoon suspended the Group Executive: Commercial Enterprises Mr. Gab Mampone.

The Board reached its decision to suspend Mr. Mampone on the basis of information in its possession which appear to point to possible acts of serious misconduct by Mr. Mampone, both in his current position and during his period as Acting Group Chief Executive Officer (May 2008 to December 2009).

The Board believes that Mr. Mampone’s continued presence at the SABC may jeopardise investigations into the allegations of possible misconduct by him.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mampone was invited to make representations on why he should not be suspended. Earlier today, the Board received and considered Mr. Mampone’s representations and issued notice of his suspension.


Issued By: Group Communications
Media Enquiries: Kaizer Kganyago
082 306 8888

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Minutes of TVIEC Meeting with SABC GCEO

25 February2010

TVIEC Meeting with SABC GCEO
20 March 2010: General Meeting of TVIEC

Dear fellow industry professionals

As you are probably aware, the TVIEC recently met with the new GCEO of the SABC, Mr Solly Mokoetle. You will find the detailed minutes of what went down at that meeting by clicking here.

Please don't forget that we are holding a general meeting of the TVIEC for all industry stakeholders on 20 March 2010. We can confirm that the venue for this meeting is the Auditorium at the Goethe Institute, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood Johannesburg. The meeting will commence at 3pm.

Best regards

Charl: 082-6813680

This update 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 CWU (Creative Workers Union).

TVIEC Steering Committee: Charl Blignaut, Rehad Desai, Levern Engel, Harriet Gavshon, Stan Joseph, Desiree Markgraaf, Lodi Masetsela, Kgomotso Matsunyane, Marc Schwinges and Robbie Thorpe

DFA partners with prestigious AFRICADOC - South Africa - Documentary Scriptwriting Residency

DFA is a supporter of the first South African Documentary Scriptwriting Residency in Johannesburg from the 12th till the 24th of April 2010.

AFRICADOC itself is however not a new venture in French Speaking Africa, and has a proud history of success. This is its first venture into an English Speaking Territory and DFA is thrilled to be associated with the program.

Founded in 2002 by French film producer and director Mr. Jean-Marie BARBE who, more than 20 years ago, created the festival “Les Etats Généraux du Film Documentaire de Lussas” in France, AFRICADOC is a programme for the development of African documentary cinema, led by a French association, Ardeche Images, together with local partners wherever Africadoc is already implemented.

The aim of Africadoc is to develop, together with all African countries, a training network to meet the needs of a new generation of documentary filmmakers, and to set up a network of professionals working in the documentary world.

Currently Africadoc is well developed in Francophone Africa. They’ve created:
  • A Master’s Degree in “Creative Documentary Filmmaking” at the University of St Louis (Senegal);
  • 5 documentary writing residencies per year in various African countries.

Louma is the name of the African Documentary Encounters of St-Louis (Senegal): A one-week annual event gathering around one hundred audiovisual professionals (filmmakers, producers, distributors and film sponsors) from Africa, Europe as well as Canada, and featuring several highlights: The Tënk (Co-production Encounters) and The Video Library.

TËNK (Co-Production Encounters)
The Tënk, which has eventually become the must-attend co-production event in African documentary film, will this year again, for its 8th edition showcase approximately thirty young African filmmakers offering them the opportunity to present their film projects. African and European members of the trade (producers, distributors and funders) will all participate in the event with one objective: Developing these with the aid of a North-South co-production. The Meeting includes two parts: Tënk (pitching) sessions and private appointments that enable the directors-to-be to easily approach the trade participants who are interested in their film projects. In 2010, thirty projects will then be presented at the 8th Tënk Encounters Co-Production, which will include participants from the South African Writing Residency.

A catalogue of approximately 150 African or Africa-related documentary films will be available for African buyers and buyers from the rest of the world (TV channels and organizations for film distribution & broadcasting). The rights owners of these films will previously have commissioned Africadoc for extraordinary direct distribution to the buyers attending Louma. These buyers will be offered the opportunity to finalize purchase on the premises, more specifically contracts concerning DVD sales.

In 7 years of existence, Africadoc has been supervising many film projects, from conception to distribution. With a view to reinforcing their identity, these remarkable films have been gathered in the Lumière d’Afrique Collection, which acts as a production “label”. Every year, the series expands by ten new documentary films developed during the writing residencies and produced thank to the Tënk Encounters.

Africadoc is also a pan-African documentary network carried by young professionals (authors and producers) and their desire to create. As such, various Africadoc associations have been created in several African countries (Togo, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso) making it possible to structure the Africadoc network, to relay the programme locally as well as to ensure the long- lasting anchorage of the network of professionals developed over time.

For the first time, South Africa has been invited to be a part of this project and eight young local documentary authors / filmmakers will be hosted for a 12 day workshop in Johannesburg to further help develop their projects. This method of documentary script development may not work for all kinds of documentaries, but certainly there are projects where this kind of intimate script development process is essential. After the workshop 4 the 8 documentary filmmakers will be selected to attend the 8th Tënk (co-production encounters), which is taking place in Saint-Louis in Senegal, in June 2010, to pitch their project developed during the writing residency.

This is a very exciting opportunity for Pan-African co-operation, as well as European-African knowledge and development assistance!

To read more and download the CALL FOR APPLICATIONS, please click here for the PDF (1.88mb) file or click here for the WORD (291kb) file.

Applications including the filled in form and the required documents (see list on form) must be sent by email and before 06th of April 2010 – midnight.

If you are able to understand French, you may also visit the project web site: Please note however the Residency will be provided in English and translators will always be on hand. It may however be an advantage if you are also able to communicate in French.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jozi the movie

Our friends at ToM pictures, who are active on the SASFED board produced this fantastic new film. Be sure to watch it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Women Of The Sun Last Thursday Showcase - Flat 13 a taste of freedom

Our friends at Women Of The Sun have put together another great screener for their members and friends to enjoy... so please co and support their monthly showcase. This week... In Celebration of Tata Madiba's release... WoS bring you Flat 13, with a Q&A with Director Zarina Maharaj.

Genre: Docudrama (90min)
Date: Thursday, 25th February 2010
Time: 19:30
Venue: The Market Theatre Laboratory, Newtown


19 February 2010


The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) wishes to advise the industry of delays currently being experienced with the issuing of filming permits by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).

The GFC advises clients to apply for permits as soon as a shoot has been confirmed in order to avoid delays.

For assistance with permit applications please contact Seitiso Mogoshane, Locations Officer, Gauteng Film Commission at (011) 833-0409 or


For more information, please contact:
Jacques Stoltz, Senior Marketing Manager: Gauteng Film Commission on +27 (0) 11 833 0409 or +27 (0) 83 455 9688 or

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

INVITE from SOS: Discussion on Community media as alternative to Public/Commercial Media

South Africa has a three tiered broadcasting system (community, commercial & public) designed to ensure a diversity of interests are represented in the public debate. However, all three tiers are under intence commercial pressure to generate income by orientating their programming to 'market' interests.

What distinguishes community media from other types of media? What are examples of successful community media productions? What challenges face the production of meaningful community media? And what should be the role of other civil society organizations in producing community media?

If you are in Cape town next week please join AIDC for a panel discussion on “Community media as alternative to public/commercial media” on Wednesday 24th February from 10h30 to 13h00 at Villa on the Beach, 7 Winkle Way, Sunset Beach.

Panelists include:

Pethu Ntaba, Radio Zebonele (tbc)
Brenda Leonard, Bush Radio
Martin Jansen, Workers World Media Productions
Tanja Bosch, UCT Media Studies

Please RSVP before Monday 22 Feb to Norma on 0214475770 or

Please share this invite with others:

Look forward to seeing you there,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SABC International goes bust – story courtesy of the Mail & Guardian

By Tanya Pampalone

SABC International (Sani) has been scrapped by the public broadcaster -- at least as the ambitious 24-hour international news channel was originally envisaged.

As of January 1 this year Sani was taken off the government-run-Sentech's Vivid platform, where it had reached a handful of viewers since launching in March 2008.

An SABC statement on Thursday said the only place South Africans could see the channel now was on SABC2 between 8am and 8.30am or between 11pm and 5am on weekdays. The channel is also available on a limited broadcast in Washington, DC.

"Failure to deliver on projected audiences in line with levels of investments has prompted the scrapping of the deal," the statement read.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago declined to comment further on the channel.

The SABC has sunk hundreds of millions of rands into the project, which was expected to become the CNN of Africa.

The channel ran with an estimated annual operating budget of between R60-million and R100-million, plus set-up costs that included a new R45-million studio and 12 international bureaux estimated to cost R20-million each.

SABC pushed MultiChoice to pick up the channel, but the deal did not materialise. This left Sani to languish on Sentech, with ineligible viewership and decoding equipment that was near impossible to purchase.

To view the story at the Mail & Guardian click here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Copyright: a mind-field - story courtesy of Gauteng Film Commission

The International Copyright Balance and Documentary Film Project of America University, together with South African film industry organisations, including the Documentary Filmmakers Association (DFA), Women of the Sun (WoS) and Black Filmmakers Network (BFN), released a groundbreaking report on copyright clearance obligations for South African documentary filmmakers at the end of 2009.

Filmmaker and board member of the DFA, Marc Schwinges, explains that the report essentially summarises research conducted with 41 South African filmmakers by the DFA and BFN in late 2008 and 2009.

"This research is about filmmakers' perceptions and practices in South African copyright law. These views were then analysed, with a draft version of the report, at an industry forum hosted in March 2009 in Cape Town by American academic legal experts from the American University. We also met up in December 2009 to finalise the report."

He elaborates that the report also includes South African legal and constitutional viewpoints. "A legal review was commissioned and this was also included in the report, along with the filmmakers' views.

The report is now a blueprint in defining what is 'Fair Practice' with regard to our industry. 'Fair Practice' includes such rights as 'Fair Quotation', 'Incidental capture of artistic works' etc. The ultimate aim is to publish a 'Best Practice Document', which examines what documentary filmmakers consider fair use and reasonable interpretations of various 'User Rights' in the South African Copyright Act. Additionally it also aims to look at how South African copyright law may be reviewed in the future."

Some of the major issues that arose with regards to the report revolved around what constitutes filmmakers' rights when it comes to using copyrighted material.
Marc Schwinges, board member of the DFA

"Filmmakers struggle to comprehend what 'User Rights' are, how to implement 'Fair Practice' and what the legal repercussions are of not following a best practice guideline. We hope that the report will go some way in clarifying these issues," says Schwinges, adding that they hope the report may in future influence South African copyright law.

"However it is too early to comment on possible changes to the South African Copyright law, but ultimately the report does allow us to analyse further and possibly in time, to make some suggestions that may influence the law. The existing 'User Rights' however can only be effectively utilised within an industry accepted and widely published 'Best Practice' document, the 'Gatekeeper' (broadcasters, distributors etc) would also need to accept this 'Best Practice'. However the 'Best Practice' document is still a work in progress and is not complete."

He explains that the DFA, WoS and BFN have all pledged to take the process forward. "We are attempting to secure funding to draft a complete industry 'Best Practice Document'. Once a draft of this document is complete - hopefully in a year if funding is sourced - than a broader industry review process will again be conducted. A task team is currently being finalised to take this process forward."

Schwinges concludes: "Once we have a 'Best Practice Document for Documentary User Rights in Copyright for South Africa', we will need to test it. Once it has been tested, and the 'Gatekeepers' have accepted it as a reasonable alternative to clearing all material, then we may look towards the standards that exist worldwide between all 'Best Practice Documents' so that a film can enjoy global exposure."

To view story on gfc site click here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Broadcast boss (Solly Mokoetle: The SABC's new CEO) vows to stick to plan – story courtesy of Times Live.

By Chris Barron

If time management is an indicator of executive competence (and it usually is) then do not expect much from the SABC's new group CEO Solly Mokoetle.

After a number of carefully scheduled appointments to interview him (at the behest of the SABC itself) were put on hold because he was doing something else, one is left with the impression that his skills in this department suck.

Either this is because after just one month in the job it is already more than he can cope with, or because he has been infected with the SABC's traditional contempt for those outside its hallowed halls.

When Mokoetle finally does talk to me he complains that I have hauled him away from a meeting with his board.

Strictly speaking, "his" board was the interim, ANC-loaded, board that appointed him and not the current board, which, like it or not, will have to deal with him.

Nameless members of the board were reportedly, and not unsurprisingly, unhappy about having a CEO foisted on them, and one imagines this may make for an uneasy relationship.

"Not at all, not at all," he says. "I think that matter has been put to bed. None of the current board has indicated that they have any problems with my leadership."

Not according to some reports, I venture. "You're flogging a dead horse," he says crossly.

Mokoetle, of course, is not new to the SABC. He was chief operating officer from 2001 to the end of 2006. Opinion is divided about his part in the shambles there, with some, not least Mokoetle himself, pointing out that when he left the corporation it was making a profit of more than R500-million.

However, a forensic investigation fingered him for complicity in "collusive tendering", which saw contracts worth R56-million being awarded to companies with links to senior SABC executives.
Mokoetle says he had nothing to do with it, but the fact is that he was in charge of the commissioning department that made these payments, so at the very least there are questions about whether he can be relied on to know what is going on under his nose.

The so-called Gobodo Report has never been made public, but after it was shown to the board Mokoetle left. Reports said he was escorted from the building by security guards, a suggestion he finds "very laughable".

He left because his contract expired, he says. The board asked him to extend it by two years, and why would it do this if there was any substance to the allegations made in the report?

He agreed to stay on to help the new, and wholly inexperienced, CEO Dali Mpofu find his feet, but then left after a year.


"I wanted a breath of fresh air outside the SABC."

Mokoetle, 54, left South Africa in 1977. He worked for Radio Freedom, which was to the ANC what the SABC was to the Nats, namely a propaganda machine.

From Radio Freedom he went to Canada, where he obtained a masters degree in journalism and worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation until returning to South Africa in 1994 and joining the SABC.

What, I ask, makes him think he is the right man to pull the corporation out of the hideous financial mire Mpofu left it in?

He laughs: "What makes ME think so? I didn't appoint myself."

But he did put his name forward presumably?

"Yes. Because I believe I have the experience the SABC requires."

So, of course, does Irene Charnley, the chairwoman of the interim board. And even those who question the wisdom of his being appointed by the interim board rather than the current board have enough respect for Charnley to give her choice the benefit of the doubt.

Mokoetle says he will stick closely to the turnaround plan given him by Charnley's interim board, which projects the corporation breaking even within two years, and being profitable within three.

He will cut costs in programming, remuneration and travel. He admits what we now all know, that in the past millions of rands were wasted buying content that was never used. This practice will cease. Nothing will be bought without careful analysis of needs, demands and scheduling capacity.
Will he be retrenching?

"Not necessarily. The recommendation from the interim board is to right-size the organisation, and there are different ways of right-sizing."

The other area ripe for cost-cutting is remuneration. Too many employees are being paid too much. He will not give a clear answer as to whether salaries will be cut or not.

He points out that foreign programmes are 10 to 15 times more expensive than local. He will not admit it, but clearly we are going to be seeing even more cheap overseas rubbish than we already are.

As for travel, there will be no more first class for executives, he says. Unless they are flying overseas, when it will be business class as usual.

Does he support the minister's proposal of a 1% levy on taxpayers to fund the SABC? Will he engage with the minister at all?

"The minister is the shareholder and critical stakeholder of the SABC. As a state-owned entity, the SABC accounts to parliament and to the government through the minister. It is inevitable that I will have to deal with the minister."

He gives an uneasy laugh. "Look, this is what has been put across by the shareholder."

If he can turn it around without the extra tax why the need for it?

"I'm not sure the need for the tax was to meet the current financial challenges. I think the objective is for the long-term funding model of the SABC."

What about concerns that this will make the SABC even more beholden to the government?

"At least 80% of funding is from advertising revenue and I don't think anyone has suggested the SABC is a lapdog of advertisers. Are we controlled by the advertisers because they give us 80% of our funding? I don't think it is as simplistic as that."

On the subject of lapdogs Mokoetle reportedly once said on radio that he would be answerable to the minister before the board.

He rubbishes this. "I was appointed by the board and until further notice I will be answerable to the board."

Which is an interesting answer because the only person with whom the minister should engage is the chairman of the board. Not the editor-in-chief, which, as group CEO, is also Mokoetle's role.

After all, how many investigative pieces on government contracts allegedly won by the minister's security company is he likely to run if he knows he will be dealing with the minister very soon afterwards?

To view the story on Times Live click here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Public Nomination to Serve on the South African Broadcast Production Advisory Body

The Department of Communications today put out a Government Notice relating to Public Nomination to Serve on the South African Broadcast Production Advisory Body. We urge all to please nominate people, and you are welcome to make nominations suggestions via your origination to SASFED who can put such nominations forward for the industry. To read the Government notice, click here.


5 February 2010
  • 20 March: Save the date
  • Please help: Programme research
20 March 2010: Save the date

This is the first call to a meeting of all members of the TVIEC and all interested industry professionals in Johannesburg on the afternoon of 20 March 2010. The purpose of the meeting is to report back on TVIEC’s dealings with SABC and other stakeholders and to consolidate and find a unified voice for the year ahead.

Please take note of this crucial date and keep your diaries open.

Producers please help: Local programming research

The TVIEC has been monitoring SABC’s broadcast schedules to determine whether the broadcaster is meeting its ICASA-regulated local content mandates. This process is enormously difficult because we don’t have all the information required – such as whether a show was commissioned or sponsored or whether a show is in repeat etcetera. We need your help. Please can you take the time to review the attachment, looking out for areas highlighted in yellow. These are areas we are either guessing or have no information on. If this is your show, please can you send us the relevant details. Click here to download Excel file.

Charl: 082-6813680

This update 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 CWU (Creative Workers Union).

TVIEC Steering Committee: Charl Blignaut, Rehad Desai, Levern Engel, Harriet Gavshon, Stan Joseph, Desiree Markgraaf, Lodi Masetsela, Kgomotso Matsunyane, Marc Schwinges and Robbie Thorpe

Thursday, February 4, 2010


4 February 2010


Themba Langa (Chairperson)
Julia Hope
Mike Makhura
Mochele Noge
Quaraysh Patel
Thandi Rmathesele
Jonathan Cawood
Jason Minnaar
Gift Buthelezi
Patrick Craven
Two officials from National Treasury

The Minister of Communications, General (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda has received the final report of the Ministerial Task Team that was appointed in June 2009 to look into the affairs of state-owned signal distributor SENTECH and the public broadcaster, the SABC.

The report made several findings and recommendations with regard to the viability relevance, impact and sustainability of the two entities.



The Task Team found that there was a gap between the board of directors and management and advised on the need for a close working relationship between the two.
The Task team found that there was a lack of collective management and decision making to an extent that key decisions were centralised to few individuals.
Senior positions are currently held by people who are nearing their retirement age and the Task Team advised the Minister that the SABC’s recruitment strategy should focus on developing and grooming young talent to prepare them for leadership positions.


Task Team found that the relationship between the Public Broadcaster and the shareholder was a reactive one instead of proactive. (A shareholder compact agreement that will address this issue has since been concluded and signed by both parties.)
Due process in several instances was not adhered to when concluding agreements with service providers.
Certain key business operations that required central monitoring and management, including some aspects of procurement were found to be decentralised. Such an arrangement presented challenges so far as coordination of operations and decision making is concerned.

The Task team found that there was no correlation between the SABC’s business plan and its mandate as a public broadcaster.
The team also found that the business model of the SABC is not sustainable and it’s disintegrated.


The Task Team found that the SABC was not observing and/or utilising financial systems put in place.
The Team also found that the public broadcaster was heavily reliant on the office of the CFO.
No monthly financial reports were submitted from heads of divisions.
Several developments have since taken place at the SABC since the Task Team started its work. These include the appointment of a new Board of Directors and a Group CEO, development and signing of the Shareholder Compact and National Treasury approval of the Guarantee. The Task Team provided indirect assistance to the Interim Board including and also during the Auditor General’ investigation process. The outcome of this process has led to action being taken against some employees of the corporation. The Ministry of Communications is adamant that these changes will soon yield results particularly as it relates to the successful implementation of the corporation’s turn-around strategy.


The Task Team’s principal finding on Sentech is that the signal distributor is in urgent need of a turnaround strategy.

In an extensive 93-page report, the Task Team urges drastic and immediate action if Sentech is to avoid lapsing into terminal decline.

The Task Team found that the organisation’s current situation was caused by several factors, prime among them being:
A new legal and regulatory regime that has opened the market for new entrants;
The absence of a clear and comprehensive ICT industry framework;
A misaligned business strategy in support of the national service delivery agenda;
The state of the markets it serves;
Declining profits; and
The demands of a digital environment which will further erode its profitability.
Highlighting the competitive threat, the report indicates that changes in legislation brought about by the Electronic Communications Act, have seen the entry of more than 300 new competitors. Previously Sentech enjoyed a monopoly in the broadcast distribution space.

The Task Team also found that the definition of Sentech’s role lies at the heart of its problems along with the strategies it has pursued and its failure to break into the telecommunications market. The migration to less expensive digital channels is an added challenge to Sentech. The Task Team emphasises that Sentech is in a financially thorny position because of the unprofitable products in its telecommunications suite. It is of the view that these products affect the profits made from regulated and unregulated signal distribution.

The SABC is the single-most significant revenue-generating client to Sentech as a whole. Sentech derives as much as 75% of its revenue from the SABC.

The exposure is such that should the SABC be in a position to self-provide, Sentech’s revenue generation will be adversely affected.

The Team maintains that Sentech’s degeneration into its current loss-making situation began with the awarding of telecommunications licences and the organisation’s attempt to launch its telecommunications services without adequate funding, robust business plans and well thought-out strategies.
In an endeavour to come find solutions, the Team considered four strategic options:

The first is to reposition Sentech in terms of its core competence as a broadcasting signal distributor.
Option two is for Sentech to leverage its core competence to look for opportunities on the continent, where it is already doing business.
The third option is for Sentech to continue with its diversification strategy of growing the telecommunications business -- a move that would require it to leverage from strategic partnerships with other seasoned players. It would need to revisit and rejuvenate its reputation to attract potential suitors.
The fourth option is for Sentech to transfer its non-broadcasting ECNS and non-broadcasting ECS businesses to Infosat.
The Team makes several strategic recommendations, among them:

Exploitation of Sentech’s unused or underutilised licences through private-public partnerships;
Exploitation of the potential African market by selling its core competence in broadcasting signal distribution;
Clarity needed regarding Sentech’s funding going forward;
Sentech should remain responsible for encoding and multiplexing;
Sentech should lobby government to develop legislation to guarantee its position as the preferred supplier of broadcast signal distribution to the SABC;
Sentech should discontinue all loss-making products and ventures;
Government should “dispel role ambiguity” by distinguishing between Sentech’s mandate and those of other SOEs. “Co-operation rather than competition will contribute towards efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the use of limited government resources;
Government should urgently address Sentech’s DTT infrastructure shortfall;
Leadership and governance needs to be strengthened;
Sentech must develop a talent management strategy;
Sentech must dynamically combine its core competence with a diversified product offering;
Staff and executives with competencies in broadcast signal distribution need to be recruited, developed and retained; and
Stabilisation support to finance the winding down of Sentech’s non-profitable products is “desperately” needed

The Task Team considers that in its current state, Sentech is “rudderless, inadequately funded and misdirected”; that its status quo renders it an unsustainable business.

I am fully satisfied with the findings of the Task Team, the members of which I thank for their time, effort and insight into what is a highly complex issue. The Team has clearly come to grips with what is required to render the SABC and Sentech economically viable entities. I also wish to express special thanks to the Minister of Finance for availing two of his senior staff members to work with the Task team. My Ministry will look at the Team’s findings and recommendations with a view of effecting changes where necessary and feasible in the shortest possible timeframe.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Sentech loss could be R214m

Published in: Business Report
February 1, 2010
By Thabiso Mochiko

WITH the imminent sacking of the chief executive and the entire board of Sentech, it has emerged that the struggling signal distributor is budgeting for a net loss of R123 million for the 2009/10 financial year as a result of discontinued operations such as MyWireless.

This is according to a scathing report compiled by the task team Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda appointed last year to investigate turnaround strategies for ailing state-owned broadcast entities Sentech and the SABC.

Sentech's loss could increase to R214m if losses of R91m by broadband services MyWireless, BizNet and Vsat are included. This amount was not disclosed to the Department of Communications by Sentech in its corporate plan.

Sentech is discontinuing its failed broadband services.

Sentech reported a net loss of R24m for the 2008/09 financial year, compared with a budgeted loss of R59.1m.

According to the report by the task team, not everybody on Sentech's management had signed the exit strategy for MyWireless, creating doubt that the decision carried every director's approval.

The task team is recommending that the entire board of Sentech, including chief executive Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane, be fired.

Sources said the board would be fired this week.

The task team found that the chief executive failed to create the correct environment to monitor performance and compliance. The report also found a "lack of adequate leadership and oversight" at the parastatal.

There was also a failure to promote ethical behaviour, because Mokone-Matabane demonstrated favouritism to company secretary Rachel Ramokhofi, the report states.

Ramokhofi was appointed as general manager, a move that angered employees.

"All the staff that we interviewed and documents that we reviewed indicate that the chief executive has delegated all her duties to the general manager. The general manager is effectively running Sentech," the report states.

"Staff morale is very low because the company secretary is bulldozing everybody."

A source said Sentech chairman Colin Hickling met with Nyanda on Monday last week and was asked for his and the board's resignation. Hickling confirmed the meeting but refused to elaborate further.

Mokone-Matabane has already indicated that she would not renew her contract, which expires in September.

The task team stated that Sentech's financial performance had been negative over the past two years, yet the board had approved salary increases for executives.

"The executives have been rewarded for poor performance. This poor performance has also been supported by the board. They attribute all the problems to a lack of funding, yet the money is being wasted on irregular expenditures."

Team's damning findings include:

Sentech appointed eight suppliers that were paid a total of R13.6 million without following correct procurement processes.

The auditors reported wasteful and irregular expenditure relating to the interest on a finance lease of R8.2m on the basis that Treasury approval was not obtained. The management's response was that expert advice had been obtained, which said such approval was not required.

The absence of a formal process flow linking the billing, legal and sales and marketing departments resulted in clients not being billed for services they received. At the time of the audit the unbilled services were worth R30.8m.

Six tubes valued at R2m were stolen at the Meyerton site due to poor security. Security cameras were purchased for the site but not installed.

The chief executive and two board members, including the chairman, took a trip to Sweden in 2008 at a cost of R1.2m. The task team was not provided with a business plan for the trip.

The board approved bodyguard services for the chief executive, although a signed contract could not be provided. A bodyguard was employed full time, and cost R262 126 a year.

A service provider was paid R945 844 for services not rendered and was not appointed through the proper procurement processes.