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Zondo decries 'unacceptable' situation at SABC

Justice Raymond Zondo who heads the commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

Justice Raymond Zondo who heads the commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 3, 2019


Johannesburg - State capture commission of inquiry chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday expressed concerns on the dire state of the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), asking why the SABC degeneration was allowed over the years while there were boards of directors, management and ministers at the helm.

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe took to the stand on Tuesday, detailing the dire state of the public broadcaster. 

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He also testified on the long-running problems that board chairman Bongumusa Makhathini told the commission about on Monday. 

Mxakwe said the SABC was shrouded by blatant disregard for supply chain processes and deliberate deviations that did not meet requirements such as approval from National Treasury. Mxakwe said although management were promised a cash injection from government before taking over in 2017, none has been forthcoming despite a turnaround strategy that has saved the SABC almost R1 billion in the past financial year.

The SABC currently awaits a R3,2 billion bailout from government.

Zondo recalled Makhathini's evidence in which he decried lack of support from government as the board and the executive team try to rebuild the public broadcaster. A visibly concerned Zondo asked where Parliament's oversight role at the SABC was year on year when the board and the executives briefed MPs on what was happening at the SABC.

"One of the issues I want to understand, is whether Parliament played its proper role in terms of oversight. Matters have gone to a completely unacceptable level in terms of wrongdoing, corruption and fruitless and wasteful expenditure over the years. Was Parliament probing these matters? What was Parliament doing with the information it received or was it not given the right information from management or boards over the years? At some stage I need to have that information," Zondo said.

"This is very worrying, we all know it is not only the SABC. There are issues at SA Airways (SAA), Denel and Eskom...and they [problems] have been there over these years. There has been ministers, CEOs CFOs and Parliament to exercise oversight. This is a very worrying thing, it's a sense of frustration to say what is it we got wrong as country? There are so many structures that appeared to have failed and allowed to reach this level. Why?" asked Zondo.

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Mxakwe said his executive team inherited "a mess" from previous boards and executive teams.

"We inherited a mess, an organisation in financial ruin but what inspires me is that we have a great executive team and other employees. The strategy we put out is working. The question, chairperson, is whether we are the right people politically? The organisation is now going through renewal...we expected an engagement and willingness to help the SABC, and that is not happening unfortunately. Lack of financial support puts us in a difficult position. If you look at our performance, it should be no brainer. As executive team, as employees, we did everything to put the SABC on a path of recovery," said Mxakwe.

He said there were 186 cases involving alleged corruption, mismanagement and misconduct before the public broadcaster, with some being investigated by the Special Investigative Unit. At least 38 of the cases were still outstanding. Some in management left the SABC to avoid disciplinary hearings, while some are facing the internal disciplinary hearings, Mxakwe said. 

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"It's a neverending process. I am confronted with reports every single day from as far back as 2014. These are the cases that were never dealt with, sometimes deliberately. We have a duty as the SABC to do what is right and follow due processes in all these cases."

He said he was inspired by the dedicated SABC workforce, an executive team with required business acumen which was able to keep the public broadcaster afloat.

African News Agency/ANA

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