Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SABC salary bill set to balloon by another R100 million as latest corporate plan notes revenues are constrained due to non-performing programming.

The SABC is set to spend R100 million more on staff salaries and paying SABC board members, while the public broadcaster warns in its new corporate plan for 2015/2016 to 2017/2018 that revenues are "constrained" since advertising clients are cutting back "as a result of declining TV audiences due to non-performance of critical programming".

Meanwhile president Jacob Zuma is weighing in on the ongoing instability at the SABC where three SABC board members were fired the past two weeks and says in a statement that the presidency is "looking into the matter with a view to finding a solution".

In its latest corporate plan, "a 7.5% increase has been included for permanent staff, board fees, freelancers, and various temporary staff requirements" by SABC executives. Meanwhile revenues from SABC TV licence fees are projected at R1 billion.

The SABC's latest corporate plan however cautions that the public broadcaster's commercial revenues are constrained due to tough economic conditions causing advertisers to "reduce their marketing and resultant advertising spend".

The SABC's latest corporate plan comes as four of the six SABC board members who were opposed to the permanent appointment of the SABC's famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer (COO) have now been axed.

SABC board member Bongani Khumalo abruptly resigned in January, Hope Zinde was fired earlier in March and last week the remaining SABC board fired Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi. Krish Naidoo and Vusi Mavuso who were also opposed to Hlaudi Motsoeneng's permanent appointment remain.

Rachel Kalidass told Business Day that she is "still a member of the SABC board because the process used was unlawful. People are misquoting the Companies Act and taking no notice of the current parliamentary and legal process that is under way. This shows that the removals are motivated by malice and it is a purge."

In a statement Ronnie Lubisi says "the decision was illegally made in contravention of the Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999" and that he is seeking legal advice.

After the SABC board said Ronnie Lubisi and Rachel Kalidass were fired due to alleged fraudulent conduct and non-disclusore of conflict of interest among board members, Ronnie Lubisi says he views "the decision of the board and such statements as unfortunate".

"I have been registered as an auditor with the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors and South African Institute of Chartered Accountants for the past 14 years. In all that time I have always conducted my business with absolute adherence to the professional and ethical requirements of my profession."

"I shall welcome an independent enquiry by a duly authorised body into my conduct as an SABC board member," says Ronnie Lubisi.

In a statement issued Monday evening president Jacob Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj says "the president, who appoints members of the SABC board on the advice of the National Assembly, views stability and good corporate governance at the SABC as being of paramount importance. He is looking into the matter with a view to finding a solution".

On Thursday, 2 April, parliament's portfolio committee on communications will start the interviews with the shortlisted candidates to replace the disgraced former SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala who resigned in mid-December 2014 after she was mired in a scandal about lying about tertiary qualifications she never had.

The five candidates shortlisted to become a new SABC board member are Saskia Janine HickeyNtomizandile Lesame (academic), Keabatswe Modimoeng (businessman), Jenni Irish-Quobosheane (former civilian police secretary) and Ashwin Trikamjee (attorney).