New Acting COO and Postponement of Parliamentary Briefing of SIU and Skills Audit Findings

Published On February 27, 2013 | By SOSAdmin | Media / Press Release, News, News Article

NEW ACTING COO AND POSTPONEMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY BRIEFING ON SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT AND SKILLS AUDIT FINDINGS

SOS notes the SABC Board’s announcement made yesterday that they have released Hlaudi Motsoeneng, from his position as acting Chief Operations Officer and reinstated him in his former role of Group Editor of Provinces. The Coalition further notes that respected veteran Journalist, Mike Siluma, Head of Radio News and Current Affairs, has now taken over as acting Chief Operations Officer.

The Coalition is happy to support Mr. Siluma in his new position. However the Coalition still has a number of questions about the removal of Mr. Motsoeneng. We need to understand what the reasoning was behind his sudden removal and further what the SABC’s way forward is in terms of the filling of the COO position. (In terms of the recent advertising of the COO post the Coalition notes with disappointment the fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred. The SABC must have been aware of the fact that the Mvuso Mbebe legal case had still not been resolved.)

The Coalition notes with alarm the number of people in senior, decision-making positions in the SABC who are in acting positions.

Further, SOS wishes to raise one more important issue – the postponement of yesterday’s parliamentary hearing. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications was due to receive the SABC’s reports on:

1. Progress made in respect of the recommendations made by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) 2010 investigation of irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the SABC between 2004 and 2009; and
2. A full scale skills audit as was recommended by the 2010 Auditor-General (AGSA) investigation.

At previous SABC briefings in March and September 2012 the Portfolio Committee was presented with and rejected earlier versions of these reports. This was due to their lack of clarity and detail both in terms of their findings but also in terms of the promised remedial action to be taken as per their respective terms of reference. As a result, the Committee was unable to perform their oversight function in this respect.

Yesterday’s briefing was then cancelled at the eleventh hour because the SABC was “not ready” to present its reports. As a result, the Portfolio Committee was, once again, unable to perform its oversight function. Once again Parliament was not able to shed light on and provide solutions for the financial crises which have beleaguered the SABC in recent years. Further MPs were not able to interrogate the broadcaster’s human resource strategy and workplace plan as the Corporation prepares to refashion itself into the broadcaster of choice in the imminent digital broadcasting era.

No substantive explanation was given for this postponement.

This leaves the Coalition with a number of unanswered questions:

1. Why has the SABC Board, despite long extensions being granted them by Parliament, been unable to deliver on their mandate to submit these two very important progress reports?
2. When will the Board finally be ready to do so?

We call upon the SABC Board to answer the questions in this statement comprehensively and as a matter of urgency. The Board needs to prove to South Africans not only in words, but in deeds, that they are serious about taking the SABC forward now and in the new unfolding digital era.

The SOS Coalition represents a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.

For more information contact:

Kate Skinner
(082) 926 6404

OR

Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
(076) 084-8077

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