SABC to take legal action against Motsoeneng and Aguma
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has instituted legal proceedings to recover money from its former executives Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma. Chairperson of the SABC interim board Khanyisile Kweyama updated the portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday morning on the work they have done in implementing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board, which the National Assembly adopted in March. Kweyama told the committee that they have also decided to withdraw the court application to review former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s report on the SABC, which had damning findings against Motsoeneng.
She said the board has sought a legal opinion on the liability of board members, group executives and officials who “knowingly participate in the making of decisions or accede to decisions being made which are contrary to the policies of the corporation, principles of corporate governance” and in breach of legislation. “The board is currently considering the institution of criminal charges against those employees who allegedly participated in criminal activity,” she said. One of the ad hoc committee’s recommendations was to evaluate the financial and legal implications of unilateral changes to policies.
Kweyama said this is ongoing. One of these policies was Motsoeneng’s decision that the SABC must broadcast 90% local content. “Thus far it has been established that the 90/10 local content directive has cost TV R183m (unaudited) and radio R29m (unaudited) loss in advertising revenue,” said Kweyama.
“These figures exclude the additional costs of R72m for the replacement of local content, and losses due to unused foreign rights already contracted.
“Proceedings have commenced to exercise a lien over pension payments due to Messrs Aguma and Motsoeneng and arrangements are underway to institute urgent legal action if necessary.” Motsoeneng, former COO, was fired after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of misconduct after he held a press conference. Aguma, former CFO and acting CEO, resigned as disciplinary proceedings were instituted against him.
The board also had a look at what the ad hoc committee’s report termed “questionable” deals. In this regard, the SABC has terminated its contracts with Lornavision and ANN7. The contract with Sekela Xabiso – which was awarded to help the broadcaster with irregular expenditure but according to evidence before the standing committee on public accounts, appears to be awarded irregularly itself – is on suspension.
“The MultiChoice contract is under review on the grounds that the important aspects are a disadvantage to the SABC and contrary to the public interest,” said Kweyama. “The remaining questionable contracts identified by the ad hoc committee have been referred to the SIU (Special Investigations Unit) for forensic investigation.” Humphrey Maxegwana, chairperson of the portfolio committee, said it has received 362 applications for the permanent board of the SABC which has to be established.
He said the committee will begin the shortlisting next week and will conduct interviews thereafter.