Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) says it has identified a few problems at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which could be the root cause of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Scopa conducted an oversight visit at the public broadcaster’s head office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, to get first-hand information on the financial affairs of the organisation.

The committee says there are discrepancies in the information provided by SABC management and the information contained in the company’s annual financial statement.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says one of the main causes of the SABC’s financial problems come from the supply chain management (SCM) department.

“Amongst other things, we have observed that there are shortcomings as far as SCM processes are concerned and the capacity and the general morale is very low in certain spaces and that is something that the SABC needs to look at. But also at the same time of course there have been improvements in the audit outcome and the SABC will be preparing to submit their annual report. This is a SABC that has historically had problems and what we are dealing with today is part of that historical problem.”

Editorial Forum for News makes presentation to Parliament’s Communication’s Committee

SABC employees have accused the public broadcaster of placing a gag on the newsroom over the planned retrenchment process.

In a presentation to Parliament’s Communications Committee, on Tuesday, the Editorial Forum for News has disputed the SABC’s claim that the news department has a bloated staff complement.

SABC’s National Radio Bulletins Editor Zolisa Sigabi told members that there are serious shortages of staff in the news division because of positions that have not been filled for years.

“We come before you, Chair and honourable members, as a broken, depleted and a demoralised newsroom where fear and anxiety roam the corridors of our buildings. We cannot speak out and tell of the challenges we are facing as staff of SABC as a gag order was imposed on staff as soon as the Section 189 process took off.”

Restructuring plan

The SABC says the exact number of employees who face retrenchments is not known at this stage because although the restructuring plan makes some positions redundant, it does also create new positions for which qualified employees can apply even if they face retrenchment.

The SABC notified employees that, according to the Labour Relations Act, it was now at liberty to unilaterally implement contemplated retrenchments, following failed talks facilitated by the CCMA.

SABC management along with unions have made presentations to Parliament’s Communications Committee. Head of Human Resources at the SABC, Dr Mosia Mojaki, said the skills audit plays a significant role in the restructuring process. He also responded to questions regarding the veracity of the audit.

‘Allegations’

Earlier, African National Congress MP Lesiba Molala said the SABC has to answer to a number of allegations including that of misleading Parliament on the retrenchment process as well as the money spent and recouped with regard to litigation processes on misappropriated funds.

Molala said the SABC’s management needed to provide clarity on a number of issues.

“There’s a lot of allegations that have been raised by the unions and the Editorial Forum. They should respond to some of these allegations. The issue that on more than three occasions presenters on SABC … (they) have been emphasising the fact that SABC has been lying to Parliament with regard to litigation. I have said in the last meeting that we need a detailed report on litigation explaining to us how much money have you recouped. There’s an allegation also that some employees have been dismissed and the manner in which you dismiss people is inhumane.”