Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

The SABC continues to bleed money: it emerged in Parliament on Tuesday that it now owes its creditors close to R600m.

The public broadcaster’s new board and its acting executive managers disclosed this during their first meeting with parliament’s portfolio committee on communications.

Reporting on their performance in the first quarter of the current financial year‚ acting CEO Nomsa Philiso said things were tough for the struggling organisation and it was not out of the woods yet.

“It was a difficult quarter for the SABC and its performance. If you remember that’s when we hit the financial iceberg in terms of our crisis. As at the end of June we were owing our creditors R597m, which has subsequently grown over the months. But on the positive side, we were still able to deliver programming and also to meet our mandate requirements‚” said Philiso.

Bongumusa Makhathini‚ the chairperson of the SABC board‚ said the newly appointed nonexecutive directors had “hit the ground running” and had started the process of trying to find a new group CEO‚ a chief financial officer and a chief operating officer.

“We, as a board, agreed that we are going to embark on an intense‚ very rigorous process to scrutinise the candidates that can lead the SABC to the next era.

“No decision has been taken at the moment. We’re busy basically engaging and searching for the right profile, the right people, who will be able to turn around the organisation‚” Makhathini said.

The SABC hasn’t had a permanent CEO since Jimi Matthews left the organisation more than a year ago. Makhathini said the board has only been working for over three weeks now in office.

“We hit the ground running with the help of the handover process that we went through. So we had an induction that took us about three days. Second thing that was very critical that we got from the induction was the handover from the previous interim board bringing us up to speed with the issues and the work‚” said Makhathini.

His deputy‚ Febe Potgieter-Gqubule‚ said the sense from the report “is that we still face a serious crisis”.

“The board, when it had its first meeting and the handover as well as its induction, was very mindful that we are inheriting a organisation in crisis on a whole range of different levels...” Potgieter-Gqubule said.

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme took issue with the SABC’s presentation, calling it “blase“.

“It was a very vague presentation. There is no sense of alarm‚ it’s business as usual. You don’t seem seized [by the problem] and it’s business as usual‚” Van Damme said.

Communications Minister Mamoloko Kubayi told the committee that there were still concerns around financial issues at the SABC and the process for a government guarantee was not yet finalised.

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