“SABC is financially sound” - CFO

BY CHARL BOSCH - SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Chief Financial Officer (CFO), James Aguma, has denied allegations that the public broadcaster is facing financial difficulty in the wake of a salary scandal involving its controversial Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Last week, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Communications, Gavin Davis, said the broadcaster confirmed in its annual report that Motsoeneng’s salary went up from R2 872 000 to R3 784 000 in a single year, and that the party would be submitting an application to have the findings investigated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

“The report indicated that the SABC suffered a R395-million loss in the 2014/15 financial year. Yet, in the same period, Motsoeneng received a pay-rise to R3.7-million,” Davis said in a statement a day after the report’s release.

“This means that, under Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s watch, the SABC’s finances have taken a R753-million nose-dive. Motsoeneng must be held to account for his exorbitant salary increases, the SABC’s financial losses under his watch, and the lies that he has told in Parliament”.

Similar negative reactions later followed from the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Freedom Front Plus, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and Congress of the People (Cope) with Davis saying that President Jacob Zuma should fire embattled Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, for her involvement in Motsoeneng’s appointment.

In a rebuttal, Aguma however stated that broadcaster had accumulated more assists than debts over the last financial year, and that there is no indication of “advertisers dumping the SABC”.

“Advertising revenue might have dropped, but there has been a broad cut of advertising budgets across all broadcasting spaces. The SABC has the content to attract advertisers and this proves we are here to stay,” Aguma told current affairs show, Morning Live, on Monday.

Clarifying the increase in Motsoeneng’s salary, Aguma stated that the initial amount of R2.8-million was a result of him being employed in an acting position, and that R279 000, which formed part of the R916 000 increase, ought to be deducted from the R3.7-million as it did not form part of a current financial year performance bonus.

“The amount was paid in October / November last year for performance before… because you cannot take away from the fact that the SABC had delivered on its public mandates,” Aguma said.

“Our staff have worked hard and the board said we did not give them recognition due to austerity before, so we are going to do this now. In effect, if you deduct that, the CEO’s salary went up by R633 000 and not the almost R1-million as reported”.