The Auditor-General (AG) will declare if the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) misled Parliament in its previous financial reports, according to the Financial and Fiscal Commission.
This comes after the Minister of Communications Khumbudzo Ntshavheni provisionally withdrew the SABC’s Financial Report from Parliament, citing concerns about its credibility.
The Financial and Fiscal Commission, which is a Chapter 9 institution that provides advice to the government on intergovernmental fiscal relations, says the AG will have to verify whether there is any perceived malicious compliance when it comes to the Public Broadcaster’s finances.
Questions asked about SABC’s state of finances:
Last week, the SABC in a statement said that a premature switch-off of the analogue system will deprive millions of South Africans of accessing public television services. Saying that only 165 000 set-top boxes had been installed in 2.9 million households.
This has prompted Ntshavheni to issue a letter to the SABC board raising her dissatisfaction regarding this matter and has threatened to withdraw the SABC financial report from Parliament.
The Financial and Fiscal Commission says the SABC’s financial report for the 2021 and 2022 reporting period has already gone through the internal audit function within the SABC and will still be subject to external audit after being submitted to Parliament.
Chairperson of the Financial and Fiscal Commission Dr Nombeko Mbava says, “The Auditor General will test if the reported information is reliable and if it is a fair representation of the facts.”
Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni updates on digital migration:
STATEMENT ON THE END OF DUAL ILLUMINATION THROUGH ANALOGUE SWITCH-OFF ACROSS SOUTH AFRICA pic.twitter.com/v7hMNv4EZH
— Dept of Communications & Digital Technologies (@CommsZA) March 28, 2022
Analysts say that the Minister should not interfere in matters that are supposed to be governed by the Board. Media Monitor has called on Ntshavheni to review her decision to withdraw her support for the SABC.
Media Monitor views the Minister’s decision as direct interference in the SABC’s affairs.
eTV brought an application to the Pretoria High Court that the analogue to digital migration be stopped until all governments supplied set-top boxes to all two-point-nine million households.
The case was dismissed and the court granted the government an extension for the migration from March 31 to June 30, 2022.
Media Monitor’s William Bird says, “I think given the court’s ruling that has complied with SABC’s request of delaying the switch off dating. We are hoping the minister will see the light and withdraw her statement.”
South Africa is ready for digital migration: Ntshavheni
Ntshavheni welcomed the Pretoria High Court ruling and urged E-TV to accept the ruling and desist from further attempts to derail the digital migration process. She says she will be meeting the SABC board soon to iron out their differences.
Ntshaveni says, “Given what has happened I had to go exercise my responsibility to say when the reports are contradicted I must alert them.”
Concerns have also been raised that ongoing tension between the minister of communications and the SABC will affect the public broadcaster’s turnaround plan. And that any changes in the funding model is likely to affect the sustainability and destabilise the revenue growth path of the SABC.
High Court Judgement on eTV’s vs Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies re Final Date for Analogue Switch-Off in South Africa pic.twitter.com/p9ZWSUWDR5
— Dept of Communications & Digital Technologies (@CommsZA) March 29, 2022
EXPLAINER: What is Digital Migration
Reporting by: Naledi Matlapeng and Tshepo Mongoai