The Democratic Alliance (DA) has requested the Public Protector to investigate national broadcaster, the SABC’s R3.4 billion irregular expenditure.
“I have this morning written to the Public Protector to request that she investigates R 3.4 billion of irregular expenditure documented in the Auditor-General’s latest report on the SABC,” said Gavin Davis, DA shadow minister of communications.
Addressing the Communications Portfolio Committee on Monday (21 October), Davis said he asked the SABC to explain an increase in the reported irregular expenditure from R100 million in the last financial year, to R3.39 billion in 2014.
“I also asked who was responsible and what actions were being taken against the individuals concerned,” he said.
SABC officials replied with the following:
- The irregular expenditure was incurred over the last three years (2012: R1 billion, 2013: R1.36 billion, 2014: R990 million);
- It is reflected this year because it was only disclosed this year;
- It is difficult to say who is responsible because the issue is a historical one and there have been different accounting officers over the period.
“This is an unsatisfactory response to the say the least. It does not tell us, for example, why the expenditure was only disclosed this year. If the irregular expenditure was previously covered up, then the public needs to know who was responsible for that as well,” Davis said.
“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,” he added.
“R3.4 billion is a mind-boggling amount of money,” the MP said. “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.”
Meanwhile, communications minister Faith Muthambi told ANC MPs not to interfere in her department’s affairs after they told her to show leadership, The Sowetan reported on Wednesday.
They also urged her to halt the process to appoint the new CEO of the SABC until the outcome of a parliamentary inquiry over the qualifications of board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala.
ANC MP Maesela Kekana told Muthambi to show leadership by turning around the entities that report to her.
The SABC received a qualified audit for the 2013/2014 financial year, which has been largely attributed to its failure to fill key vacancies, such as that of CEO.
Kekana said: “…It tells me that minister, [you] should lead… you can’t come here and we tell you one thing everyday, ‘fill up the post’, [which] is an easy thing”.
Muthambi said: “…You know the question of separation of powers… You should not pronounce yourself on that so that you allow the process of separation of powers to apply”.
She then indicated that she was waiting for a government vetting agency report and would press to appoint an SABC CEO by the end of November.
The exchange took place during a meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on audit reports of entities reporting to the minister.
Reporting with Sapa