The Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) cautiously welcomes the announcement on 18 June 2015 that the SABC is to take "stern" disciplinary action against more than 150 employees on allegations of collusion with medical practitioners to defraud the SABC' Medical Aid Scheme.
Industry estimates tout R18bn as the annual value of medical aid fraud in an industry worth over R150bn annually.
Whilst details are not provided in the SABC' statement regarding the nature and quantum of the alleged "collusion with medical practitioners", MWASA, remains concerned by the appropriateness of the very system and individuals that seek to dispense with the task of prosecuting the reported allegations of fraud.
MWASA is aware that the infrastructure to ensure the integrity of the of the SABC' systems of management, oversight and accountability have been eroded over many years of deliberate crisis incubation and generation by successive administrations from as far high up as the Presidency. 8 ministers in 21 years, progressively weakened Parliamentary oversight, successive dysfunctional boards, a decimated Group Executive and many beholden, token managers and union leaders do not inspire hope that the scourge of corruption at the SABC will be addressed adequately any time soon.
Frankly, there is no law, there is no order and we are suspicious that only ordinary and desperate employees and a few targeted individuals will be brought to some special form of summary justice. The parameters of acceptable conduct have been breached far too often and the disciplinary system is so permeable and porous to the extent that impunity is the new normal across the SABC.
The announcement serves in the main to instill a sense of fear and cement the basis of patronage across the staff of the corporation. Pardons have been selectively dispensed in favour of grossly compromised individuals whilst wrongfully accused staff continue to win their protracted cases at the CCMA and the Labour Court. There has yet to be any consequences for any executive or manager who has lost any case at any of the dispute resolution tribunals leading to untold amounts of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the millions over the years. The human-cost simply boggles the mind.
Whilst there could be many instances of fraud in relation to sick-leave and medical aid provisions, the unfortunate reality is that former CEO Lulama Mokhobo's assessment that "the SABC is an organisation whose core is fractured" holds true. The public servants that make up the staff-complement of the SABC need a reprieve from crisis-management and crisis-managers. It is an unhealthy work-environment by any standard hence the heavy reliance on medical practitioners and the temptation that goes with possibilities to score easy money.
Whilst we have a duty to assist our members throughout disciplinary proceedings, we are never going to condone any form of misconduct on the part of any among our members at the SABC or elsewhere. Misconduct must be punished, corruption and criminality must be quashed wherever and whenever they raise their ugly heads, but the one question we ask is: "Who benefits from a dysfunctional SABC?"
For MWASA's contact details click here.
MWASA is a member of NACTU, IFJ, UNI -GLOBAL, SAJA, The SA Press Council, WWMP, SOS and R2K Campaigns, MICT-SETA and IFJ-AFRICA