Saturday, 28 August 2010

Solly Mokoetle has been suspended!


The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition

SOS welcomes the Board’s decision to suspend the SABC’s GCEO, Solly Mokoetle
27 August 2010

The “SOS: Support Public Broadcasting” Campaign representing a number of trade unions including COSATU, COSATU affiliates CWU and CWUSA, FEDUSA and BEMAWU; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); and a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA) and the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF); as well as a number of academics and freedom of expression activists welcome the SABC Board’s decision to suspend the SABC’s CEO, Solly Mokoetle.
Mr. Mokoetle has strongly backed and supported the Chair of the SABC, Dr Ben Ngubane’s serious breaches of corporate governance at the broadcaster. He has implemented the Chair’s illegal unilateral appointment of the Head of News thus throwing the SABC into a serious, an   entirely unnecessary, corporate governance crisis.
Further, it is alleged that Mr Mokoetle has operated unilaterally (with only the authority of the Chair) and without accounting to the rest of the Board on a number of important occasions. For instance, in a leaked memo from Board members to the Minister of Communications on 8 June 2010 it appears that Mr. Mokoetle attended a conference in China on behalf of the Chair of the Board, days before the opening of the World Cup, on an issue not vital to the SABC’s core mandate, and without appointing anyone to act in his absence.
Further to these specific allegations it appears that Mr Mokoetle has failed overall to deliver on his detailed performance targets clearly laid out in his performance contract with the SABC Board. To date the SABC still does not have a “turn around” strategy in place. Further, he does not appear to have implemented any cost cutting measures at the cash-strapped broadcaster – in fact it appears that there was significant fruitless and wasteful expenditure at the SABC over the period of the FIFA World Cup. This is in terms of the purchase of World Cup tickets, without ensuring direct benefits to the SABC, and the hiring of the Sandton Convention Centre, at excessively high rates, as a broadcast venue.
If these various allegations are in fact proved to be correct then we believe Mr Mokoetle should be fired for both actively supporting and implementing illegal decisions taken by the Chair and further for not fulfilling the clear targets of his performance contract.
The swift conclusion of Parliamentary processes

Further to this action around the CEO we believe that Parliament needs to conclude its hearings into the SABC governance crises in an open session. SOS supports the calls by IDASA, SANEF, MISA-SA and others to ensure that Parliamentary sessions are held in the open to ensure maximum public accountability and transparency. We therefore do not believe that Parliament should wait to hear the conclusion of the court case that forced them to adjourn their closed session. The Parliamentary hearing should be held in the open as soon as possible.
The Coalition notes that to date only one side of the story has been tabled and reported on – the evidence of the Chair Dr. Ben Ngubane.  We urgently need to hear the evidence from the rest of the Board.
SOS believes that Parliament must then investigate this evidence before them and take appropriate and swift action against those guilty of violating good corporate governance practices, processes and protocols at the SABC. If it is found that the Chair of the Board, Dr Ben Ngubane has in fact violated good corporate governance practices at the SABC, which it certainly appears he has, then he should be removed as Chair of the Board.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Ruling in Case Number GAJB2736/10 Unfair suspension of Mr. Leballo

The General Manager
Employee Relations

Dear Sir,

The CCMA Arbitration Award in this matter, received today has reference.

We confirm that the outcome of the arbitration was that the suspension of Mr. Leballo has been declared unfair, and that he must report for duty within seven (7) days of receipt of this award. We furthermore confirm that the SABC has been ordered to pay Mr. Leballo an amount of compensation of R90 000 within 21 days to compensate him for the unfair suspension.

Mr. Leballo wants to report for duty tomorrow.

Kindly make the necessary arrangements for him to collect his access card and laptop, and furthermore ensure that his return to work will be without any further interference and hindrances.


Hannes du Buisson

Friday, 06 August 2010

Fire SABC Board Chairperson


6 AUGUST 2010

The SOS Campaign representing trade unions (including Cosatu, Fedusa and Bemawu), NGOs (including Media Monitoring Africa, the Freedom of Expression Institute and Misa-SA), CBOs, industry related bodies (including SASFED), academics and freedom of expression activists notes with dismay the seemingly endless governance problems at the SABC.
From media reports it appears that the Chair of the Board, Dr Ben Ngubane and the CEO, Mr. Solly Mokoetle are again involved in decisions that flout good corporate governance practices and procedures. It appears that the CEO, Mr Solly Mokoetle, without Board approval, has authorised additional bonuses to staff. These discretionary bonuses related to the World Cup are reportedly costing the public broadcaster R4.5m – and this at a time of great financial strain for the broadcaster. Further, there seems to be some controversy around whether these payments were in fact in lieu of overtime.
The interim Board of the SABC arranged a R1.47bn government guarantee in 2009 to pay back the SABC’s debts and further to assist with the implementation of a much needed turn-around strategy. The understanding from National Treasury was that the starting point was that all unnecessary spending would be strictly curtailed. So even if the CEO did not require specific Board approval for the World Cup bonuses, the wisdom of the decision must surely be questioned.
The Coalition believes that the ongoing crises at our public broadcaster have become so serious that urgent intervention from Parliament is, sadly, once again required.
We believe the following interventions should be undertaken by the Board:
1)   First, the Board needs to pass a resolution of no-confidence in the Chair for non-compliance with Board procedures and decisions.
2)   Second, the Board needs to pass a resolution to send a formal letter to the Speaker of Parliament requesting the National Assembly to initiate an enquiry into the alleged misconduct of the Chair with a view to removing him from the Board on the grounds of misconduct in terms of the sections 15, and 15A of the Broadcasting Act.
If the Board is effectively paralysed and cannot act in the ways we suggest, then we call upon Parliament to act. Parliament must (as it is legally entitled, indeed required, to do in times of crisis involving the SABC) initiate its own enquiry into what appear to be serious violations of corporate governance processes involving the Chair of the SABC Board. If after due enquiry it is clear that such violations have taken place, then Parliament must act to remove the Chair. Parliament cannot afford to drag out these crises in the same way it did over the crises that plagued the previous SABC Board.

SOS notes that the Board has been in office for the last seven months and yet we have little to show for this.  No new vision for the SABC appears to have been crafted and the much-talked-about turnaround strategy is still not forthcoming.  Further, communication with the general public in terms of its numerous corporate governance breaches and crises has been grudgingly scarce. For the most part the public has been forced to rely on media leaks.
SOS reiterates once again the critical importance of the SABC fostering a culture of transparency and communication. As a public broadcaster, the SABC’s main stakeholder is the public. Hence the SABC needs to ensure that its decision-making and governance processes – and the details of the crises and how they are being handled – are effectively communicated to the nation.
Further, SOS is considering taking up the numerous corporate governance breaches with the Public Protector. It is critical to restore the credibility of the SABC and this may be one important way.
Finally, SOS notes the comments made in today’s Mail & Guardian newspaper that there are further crises around the appointment of the Head of News and that allegedly divisions have arisen in terms of the disciplining of the CEO, Solly Mokoetle. SOS believes that this further confirms the need for the proposals we have outlined above.
For more information please contact:

Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator - 082-926-6404
William Bird – Executive Director Media Monitoring Africa – 082-887-1370
Siphiwe Segodi – Freedom of Expression Network – 072-655-4177
Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – 082-759-0900
Hannes du Buisson – President Broadcasting Electronic and Media Workers Union – 082-920-8669
Marc Schwinges – Communications SASFED – 083-901-2000
Ayesha Kadjee – Executive Director FXI – 083-500-7486

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

The not-so-Human Resources of SABC Sales and Marketing

Sue Dennison worked for the SABC for 20 years.

This morning she received this e-mail from the Human Resources Department, Sales and Marketing headed by Mr Dingaan Feliti.

“Hi Sue
This serves to advise that your last day in our service was 31 July 2010 as you reached normal retirement age during July.  We erroneously did not inform you and did not do the processing.  Please be aware that the SABC will not be in a position to pay you for the 2 days you worked in August 2010.

HOW DREADFUL IS THIS? First you don’t inform the employee, after 20 years of service that her services will be terminated (many employees continue to work beyond retirement date). No interest at all in her 20 years of service. No “thank you”, no “good bye”. And then you add insult to injury by stating she will not be paid for the two days she worked!!!! Unbelievable!  Shocking! Well, maybe not so shocking for us, because this is how employees are treated, in particular at Sales and Marketing. By what is called Human Resources.

Sales and Marketing is the engine room of the SABC’s finances, where at least 80% of the SABC’s income is generated. And this is how you treat those employees?

A report from a member.

Dear Hannes
Please refer to the e-mail below and the attachment and kindly note that most of the staff is distraught with the way this had been dealt with as Tannie Sue was seen crying uncontrollably and was made to leave the building like a skelm after 20 years of service to the SABC.
What are we going to do about this as the members of the union/s are very upset with the way they are dealing with the pertinent matters within Group Sales & Marketing.”