Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SABC splurges R3.39 billion on irregular spending in three years; public broadcaster can't say who exactly is responsible for irregular expenditure.

The SABC wasted R3.39 billion on irregular spending in the past three years according to the Auditor General (AG).

This R3.39 billion is money the Auditor General (AG) says wasn't spent properly - R900 million in the latest declared annual report of 2013/2014, and R1.36 billion in 2012/2013 and R1 billion in 2011/2012.

The SABC's acting chief financial officer (CFO) James Aguma, isn't able to tell parliament who exactly is responsible for the irregular expenditure - one of the reasons the SABC once again received a qualified audit for its 2013/2014 annual report.

The Auditor General warned the SABC that the public broadcaster is under reporting its irregular spending.

It is the 4th consecutive time that the beleaguered SABC received a qualified audit from the Auditor General.

"Who is responsible for irregular spending is a very difficult question to answer," James Aguma told parliament.

James Aguma told parliament that irregular expenditure by the SABC "is not something that is going to be disclosed openly". James Aguma told parliament on Tuesday that the SABC's policies were not in line with South African law.

James Aguma told parliament that the SABC sometimes broadcast sport coverage before contracts for broadcasting rights are finalised.

The SABC is battling disastrous management and poor governance issues, poor internal controls, a famously matricless acting chief operating officer which the Public Protector says "should never have been appointed at the SABC", as well as noncompliance and wasteful expenditure.

The SABC still doesn't have a permanent CEO after Lulama Mokhobo abruptly resigned and left at the beginning of the year, getting R8 million for just 11 months of work.

The public broadcaster is accused of biased news coverage favouring president Jacob Zuma, angered viewers with idiosyncratic language and programming shifts between channels and recently suspended its TV head Leo Manne.

The SABC was this year unable to keep its most watched TV show and biggest TV revenue earner, Generations, on the air as it effectively failed to manage the programming crisis which also inflicted huge further damage on the public perception and reputation of the broadcaster.

Gavin Davis, the Democratic Alliance's (DA) shadow minister of communications asked the Public Protector to investigate the R3.39 billion of irregular expenditure of the SABC, saying "R3.4 billion is a mind-boggling amount of money".

"If the irregular expenditure was previously covered up, then the public needs to know who was responsible for that as well."

"It is clear that the SABC has no appetite to get to the truth and hold anybody accountable for this irregular expenditure. I am therefore requesting the Public Protector to do so."

"It is imperative that we get to the bottom of where the money went, who was responsible for spending it irregularly and what action needs to be taken against those responsible."