The DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme, said that the SABC is a clear disaster waiting to happen. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency/ANA.

CAPE TOWN - The DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme, said that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is a clear disaster waiting to happen. 

"Today (Thursday), Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane revealed in Parliament the remuneration packages of the SABC’s top three executives. She revealed that the salaries of the chief executive, COO and CFO are R5.1 million, R4 million and R3 million respectively. The total remuneration for executive packages thus stands at R12.1 million", Van Damme said. 

"This is but a marginal R1.2 million decrease compared to the highly inflated R13.3 million paid to top management last financial year, largely as a result of huge yearly increases during the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era."

Van Damme went on to add that the SABC was, therefore, misleading the public when they indicated that the salaries of “the executive management have been significantly reduced”.

The MP said that "it is also a pity that the Minister had to reveal these figures today. The DA has continuously asked SABC board to reveal the salaries of their top management, which they repeatedly refused to do, even when asked in Parliament."

"We today also found out in a reply that the SABC has not conducted a skills audit before considering staff retrenchments," Van Damme added. 

According to Van Damme, the SABC board is not inspiring confidence and their attitude towards accountability needs to be set straight. 

"We will not allow for a slide towards Hlaudi-esque arrogance. It must be nipped in the bud."

Some of SABC's biggest financial blunders

Take a look at some of the SABC's biggest financial blunders on the heels of the 189 retrenchment notice that the corporation issued to all employees earlier this week.

More than 2 000 employees could lose their jobs to save the broadcaster R440 million.

1. The SABC hired auditing company Sekela Xabiso (SkX) to detect irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The contract was questioned because the value of the SkX contract amounted to R25 million which was contrary to the initial indication of R5 million made by the SABC. In addition, no documents had been made available to indicate the SkX contract was awarded through an open tender process.

2. The broadcaster's acting chief financial officer James Aguma admitted to Parliament’s oversight committee on communications that in its 2013/14 annual report the SABC had disclosed R3.3-billion in irregular expenditure. R990-million of that amount was incurred in the current year,  R1.36 billion was incurred in 2013 and R1 billion in 2012. Aguma also admitted that in the previous year, about R100 million was disclosed as irregular expenditure.

3. The SABC is also approaching the Labour Court to recover money irregularly paid as salary increases which were reported in 2014 by public protector Thuli Madonsela. The report documented irregular appointments, promotions and salary increases of some employees who are no longer with the company.

4. In 2016 cash-strapped SABC purchased an Audi A5 SUV worth R740 000 for the then SABC board chairman Mbulaheni Maguvhe, while the company was struggling to stay afloat and at the time requested staff to take a salary cut. The vehicle is currently parked off at the broadcasters Auckland Park parking lot.

5. A report conducted by the auditor general in 2016 revealed that the SABC had awarded 71 contracts worth R150.7 million to "close family members, partners and associates of officials".

6. SABC announced in 2017 that legal action would be taken to recover millions from former executives Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma. Motsoeneng’s decision that the SABC should broadcast 90% local content cost the corporation about R183 million in television and R29 million in radio advertising revenue. This decision was made contrary to the policies of the corporation, principles of corporate governance” and in breach of legislation.

7. As the COO of SABC Hlaudi Motsoeneng received a whopping R4.197 million annual salary package in the 2015/16 financial year, which made him the highest paid official at the public broadcaster. The SABC made a loss of R411 million in the previous financial year but still increased Motsoeneng’s salary by half a million rand. A report revealed that Motsoeneng received: a basic annual salary of R2.554million; the 13th cheque of R213 000; R945 000’s worth of expenses and other allowances; and employee benefits (contribution to a pension fund and medical aid) valued at R485 000.

* This story has been updated to fix the headline which incorrectly stated that SABC executives received R12 million a month. It is R12 million in total a year. We apologise for the error. 

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