Cape Town. – In a drama straight out of a soap opera, two suspended SABC board members showed up at an SABC briefing in parliament today and made startling claims about the beleaguered state owned entity.
The SABC was called to appear before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to discuss its latest annual report.
The organisation has for two years running received a qualified audit opinion and 70% of the SABC’s targets were not achieved in the past financial year. It seems certain the SABC will get a third qualified opinion for the current financial year.
During the meeting it was discovered that the SABC currently has no audit committee and has been without one since at least July.
Dr. Ben Ngubane, chairman of the SABC board confirmed this.
“We made recommendations in July at the AGM, but the shareholder rejected the recommendations. She (minister of communications Dina Pule) said the recommended people were not qualified.”
Roy Ainslie, member of Scopa, wanted to know what had changed since July.
“Surely the chairman is not saying there is no internal controls at the SABC?” Ainslie asked.
“Nothing has happened since then,” said Ngubane. “But there’s an internal audit function still ongoing.”
Ainslie said even if there’s an internal audit function, this function still has to report to an audit committee – which does not exist.
The board was questioned about corporate governance and the amount of senior staff members on suspension.
At this, Cawe Mahlati and Gugu Duda, acting CFO who is both currently on suspension, insisted on making statements to the Scopa committee (in their capacity as board members) wherein they contradicted the rest of the SABC board on comments made around corporate governance.
Duda claimed she has been on suspension for two months and has still not been charged.
Ngubane says the CFO was suspended based on two audit reports the board received. “Suspension is to stop people from interfering with investigations, from removing evidence,” Ngubane said.
Themba Godi, Scopa chairman said the aggrieved board members had to make written submissions to Scopa and “not disrupt the meeting”.
“This has become a circus. Never before have we seen members of a board come here, contradicting other members of the board,” Godi saud.
Dion George, DA MP wanted to have Scopa hear the suspended board members out but he was overruled.
Godi asked the SABC board: “How did we choose you? How did you get appointed?”
He said Scopa is now doing a post mortem.
“We are looking at what killed the patient.”