The knives are out for acting SABC CEO James Aguma, with Scopa calling for his suspension over the mess at the public broadcaster. Picture: Itumeleng English
Johannesburg - The knives are out for acting chief executive of the SABC James Aguma, with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) calling for his suspension over the mess at the SABC.

Members of Scopa on Wednesday accused Aguma of skipping the meeting to avoid having to explain the illegal appointment of a firm to investigate irregular expenditure of R5.1 billion at the public broadcaster.

They said he could “run but cannot hide”, and they wanted him to account for the illegal contract, as well as the rot that set in at the SABC during his tenure. The company was appointed at a cost of R25 million over three years.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said she would not discuss the suspension of any official in an open meeting, but was taking into consideration the views of the committee.

“What I will do is to take to heart what you have said and your support, and the board will act in a correct manner,” said Dlodlo.

Deputy chairperson of the SABC interim board Mathatha Tsedu said the committee must allow the board to act legally.

“It would be amiss of us to act like that,” he said.

Scopa was also angry that Aguma had failed to tell the SABC interim board that he had filed an affidavit in support of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and that he had authorised the suspended SABC boss’s media conference.

Aguma had initially told the interim SABC board he was off sick, but later the board learnt of the role he played at Motsoeneng’s disciplinary hearing.

Scopa said it wanted answers on how the firm was appointed at a cost of R25m to deal with irregular expenditure, and why it had not been reined in.

Vincent Smith of the ANC and his colleague Nyami Booi produced minutes of the SABC executives’ meeting in 2014 showing they were fighting over the contract.

Scopa members said the SABC had flouted supply chain management procedures in the appointment of the company.

Smith also warned that the destruction of documents at the SABC was a deliberate plan by the officials to get rid of the evidence.

There was also a concern raised by Scopa chairperson Themba Godi that documents had been destroyed at the SABC.

Smith said this was unacceptable.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. The destruction of the records is to destroy incriminating evidence,” said Smith.

Another ANC MP, Nthabiseng Khunou, called for action against those who destroy documents at the SABC.

“I agree with you, chairperson, heads have to roll. That is why there is the withdrawal of documents, people are hiding (information). As much as we agree Aguma is a problem, we can’t shift the blame. Where are your documents?” asked Khunou.

David Roos of the DA accused the SABC of presenting different figures on the contract. He said when they met with the SABC in March, they were told the contract was for R4m, but on Thursday they were shocked to learn it was actually R25m.

This was the same contradiction raised by Vuyo Mente of the EFF. She accused the SABC of putting different figures on the contract.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa of the IFP said the SABC had gone rogue and called for an inquiry into Aguma.

The SABC told Scopa the case of the contract had been referred to the Special Investigating Unit. 

The proclamation of the investigation was likely to be issued in June and the probe would then begin.

Political Bureau