Johannesburg - A tug of war is brewing between former interim board members at the SABC implicated in a multi-million security tender scandal and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
This comes as the ex-board members vowed to fight the findings of an SIU report which they have described as “factually flawed in law”. Former chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, her deputy Mathatha Tsedu and former board members Krish Naidoo, John Matisonn and Febe Potgieter-Gqubule briefed the media on Tuesday where they announced their plans to take legal action against the SIU which recommended that they be criminally charged.
The SIU report submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa in June found, among other things, that the board in question had flouted procurement processes by overlooking the best bidder for the tender, Mjayeli Security Services, and instead choosing the second-highest bidder, Mafoko Security Patrols, using BEE status as an excuse.
Mjayeli scored 99% for R183 million over five years while Mafoko scored 98.8% for R185m. The SIU also recommended the board members be declared delinquent for failing to act in the interest of the public broadcaster.
Kweyama rubbished the report, indicating that allegations of corrupt collusion between SABC executives with Mjayeli were revealed by a whistle-blower and that the interim board would be irresponsible to award the tender to the company given the level of corruption discovered when she and her team were appointed in April 2017.
“When we arrived at the SABC, we found an institution riddled with corruption which had become endemic and systemic. Top executives placed their people in strategic positions in various divisions, particularly supply chain management,” Kweyama said.
Kweyama added the tender had been processed by the bid execution committee by the time the board came in, with Mjayeli being the preferred bidder. “We discovered that the Mjayeli tender had been excluded twice before for failing to meet the bid requirements,” Kweyama said.
Among the serious allegations received by the board which forced them to appoint Mafoko, according to Kweyama, was that: ¡ Monies had been paid to executives to award the contract to Mjayeli.
The tender process had been cancelled several times prior to the bid process to ensure Mjayeli met requirements and scored the highest points.
The safe in which the tender documents were kept was breached. The SIU rejected the claims of the board as it said they could not be proven.
Kweyama, however, hit back saying they were unfazed by the recommendations as they had spent their six months reversing malfeasance at the SABC, including cutting annual loss by R500m.
“We will defend our reputations vigorously and to the full extent of the law. We find it curious that all of the many corruption files which the interim board investigated and referred to the SIU, this is the only matter in which the SIU recommends criminal action.”
Tsedu, meanwhile, indicated the board was confronted with the important decision of ensuring security for the SABC while it also had to deal with damning revelations about the highest bidder. “The SIU says we should instead have cancelled the entire process and have it restarted instead of going for the second positioned tenderer.
“That was not going to be possible because the company that was at that time providing security, Venus, its contract had expired more than two years as they were tendering and Mjayeli was not making it. “The company that we went with provided security to the SABC and it is up to date,” he said.