Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BREAKING. Parliament rips into the SABC: 'What EXACTLY have you been doing for the past 8 years???'

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Parliament today ripped into the SABC and its lame-duck quitting SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo who appeared before it with other SABC executives including its famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng as acting chief operations officer (COO), to report back on a dismal independent skills audit report on the SABC.

Parliament's portfolio committee on communications - the body tasked with oversight of the beleaguered and embattled South African public broadcaster - on Tuesday slammed into the SABC, as members of the committee wanted to know what on earth the SABC had been doing for the past 8 years.

The committee who was shocked with the findings of the independent consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). According to the PwC skills audit 104 SABC staff don't even have a personnel file.

Half (50%) of the SABC's managers don't show adequate levels of problem solving, the PwC skills audit of the SABC showed. The audit showed that 35% of senior SABC managers disregard financial information.

The report found "manipulative abuse at the SABC". The audit was carried out across 842 job titles at the SABC.

The report highlighted how unready in their view the SABC apparently is for the switch-over from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) in South Africa and digital broadcasting.

"The SABC don't have the skills! What have you've been doing for the past 6, 7, 8 years?" said Marian Shinn, the DA's member of parliament and shadow minister of communications.

"Everytime we go to the SABC they say we just need to flip the switch and we've gone digital with television. No. You haven't. You don't have the skills. You don't have the equipment."

"The archive hasn't even started going digital. You don't even yet know if you're going to do your digital content production internally or externally - apart from news and sport which you're going to be doing internally," said Marian Shinn.

"One wonders why you keep saying you can do this when clearly you can't. The archive is going nowhere digitally. And it has an impact with the deal with MultiChoice which basically went into the deal with you so they could access your archives. And you haven't even started with that."

"And you should have gone live with your live SABC Entertainment TV channel in November 2013 which was going to use those archive material. So what exactly have you guys been doing for the past eight years?"

"One hears Lulama Mokhobo say there's going to be a great turnaround-strategy at the SABC, and we're going to have a brand-new SABC. Not with the current skills set you've got in executive management."

"Six don't meet the minimum requirements for strategic thinking according to the report. What on earth makes you think that the current crop of executive management at the SABC can actually be entrusted with turning the SABC around?" asked Marian Shinn.

"Fifty percent at the SABC not able to demonstrate adequate levels of solving problems and making decisions. A further 15% only demonstrated marginal competence in strategic thinking. These are the people who are going to turn the SABC around. No, I don't think so!"

"The senior management at the SABC couldn't even be bothered to do the numeracy test that was required for a proper skills assessement. The entire senior management of the SABC is in a dire, dire state."

According to the report read in parliament, SABC personnel used for the skills audit "do not trust the SABC's management team, or the SABC board". "They question the ability of the above-mentioned and demonstrate a negative attitude towards the organisation which could negatively influence the total corporate culture at the SABC".

"What on earth makes you actually think you can turn this corporation around?" asked Marian Shinn. "Most of your staff don't actually do their work properly".

Juli Kilian, COPE's member of parliament called the independent skills audit report on the SABC "a reality check", "harsh and disconcerting" and the findings "really worrying".

"It is basic business principles that is not being applied - people being appointed who simply don't have the skills," said Butch Steyn, the Democratic Alliance's member of parliament and a member of the communications portfolio committee.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC is ready for switch-on for DTT. "We can switch it today. We are also producing soapies that you see - the Generations, your Muvhango's and others - so we have people with skills set at SABC".

Hlaudi Motsoeng told parliament on Tuesday that "SABC has done well". He said, "SABC is doing well. People are saying get partners from outside the country - BBC and others. We said 'no, we have relevant skills set within SABC."

Prof. Bongani Khumalo, SABC board member said in parliament that "it is not as bad; as dire, as it seems to be".