Monday, November 1, 2010

SABC board turns on chair

The SABC board was given a whipping in Parliament for the second week in a row when it appeared before public spending watchdog Scopa to discuss the broadcaster's 2009/10 annual report on Wednesday.

The presentation the board had prepared for Scopa was not tabled because committee members wanted to question it about what action had been taken on the damning auditor general's report of last year.

The report found the SABC awash in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, non-compliance with reporting requirements, and irregularities. As most of the serious abuse has been referred to the Special Investigating Unit, the board could say little about individual cases.

The overwhelming complaint from Scopa members was that the board had given them no assurance that it understood the concept of fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and accountability for all transgressions.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi urged board members to answer questions honestly. "Say it as it is," he said.

When the board appeared before the communications committee last week, its chairperson, Ismail Vadi, said that it could not receive presentations of the board's performance review for the current year because of its dismal failure to submit relevant documents.

This week seemingly crestfallen SABC chairperson Ngubane said: "We have taken to heart all of the discussion today. We can only try our best and there is real sincerity in trying our best. But if obviously we are hopeless failures, well that is a different story. We have put in systems and the subcommittees are working and meeting all the time to try to answer all the issues in the AG's report and to clean up the organisation. At the same time, we are trying to revitalise our commercial enterprises, bring in advertising revenue, which is rising by the way, and we are improving a lot."

Ngubane said the board was also "trying to establish a pattern of behaviour within the organisation and these things take time".