SABC grilled on fuel and contracts

Cape Town -

Senior managers at the SABC are receiving petrol allowances of up to R10 000 a month under a system designed to replace petrol cards, which were previously a source of controversy.

The SABC has paid back part of a R1 billion Nedbank government gauranteed loan. File photo: Cara Viereckl. Credit: Independent Newspapers

The broadcaster has also revealed it is locked into “evergreen” contracts – such as for American soapie The Bold and the Beautiful – which are binding until the series eventually end.

The SABC board was back in Parliament on Tuesday and received a grilling from the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).

SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane said the broadcaster had decided to get rid of petrol cards, but that the “new measures” were actually more expensive.

Acting chief financial officer Tian Olivier said the news team and outside broadcasting vehicles still used petrol cards, as did the sales team, but there were “controls” in place.

He conceded, however, that senior managers, while not being allocated petrol cards any longer, were allocated a petrol allowance – in his case, R10 000.

Scopa also heard that the broadcaster’s supply chain management policy had not yet been approved, and it had been operating without an internal audit committee for months.

ANC MP Roy Ainslie questioned Ngubane as to why the policy had not yet been approved when a recommendation to this effect was made more than two years ago.

“Why is it taking so long? Supply chain management is a vital area, and if there’s no policy, it must give rise to fraud, it must give rise to corruption, it must give rise to irregular expenditure,” an exasperated Ainslie said.

“But in the meantime, the organisation procures billions and billions of [content] – based on what? On no policy. It’s mind-boggling. It’s unacceptable.”

Ngubane said the absence of an internal audit committee had arisen because the minister of communications had rejected the board’s suggestions for new audit committee members in August.

He warned MPs that he projected the SABC would get a clean audit only in 2014.

Political Bureau