MEMBERS of Parliament’s communications portfolio committee on Tuesday poked holes into the skills audit the SABC is conducting and questioned its credibility, saying that it lacked time frames and was "half cooked".
MPs were also dissatisfied with the SABC’s tardiness in implementing the auditor-general’s recommendations to improve corporate governance. His probe in 2009 found evidence of widespread corruption and fraud at the organisation. A task team was set up last year to investigate the allegations.
The skills audit was part of the state broadcaster’s turnaround strategy. It has ambitious plans of boosting its offerings — including the launch of 24-hour news and sports channels and two regional channels.
It also aims to take advantage of the increased signal capacity of digital terrestrial television by launching about 18 new channels. Experts have questioned the broadcaster’s capacity to roll out so many channels successfully.
The SABC hopes a successful skills audit will help to realign and improve the business.
Delivering the skills audit report to MPs on Tuesday, Thabiso Lesala, group executive of human capital services, said the purpose of the audit was to assess available skills and measure them against those required to ensure the sustainability of the organisation.
He said the audit was being carried out internally and much progress had been made. From 3,644 employees 2,457 or 67% completed questionnaires had been received. However, some employees were "suspicious" of the purpose of the skills audit, believing it was a ploy by the organisation to cut jobs.
The broadcaster said it was engaging the unions concerned. SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane told MPs this was the "first phase of the skills audit".
Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn criticised the audit saying it did not pay enough attention to technical skills.
She said the SABC seemed to have an "oversupply" of middle managers. The credibility of the audit was questionable since it was conducted by the SABC itself.
Congress of the People MP Julie Killian said the organisation’s "top structure was still too costly" and more resources needed to be spent on broadcasting and journalists.
Committee chairman Sikhumbuzo Kholwane said the problem with the audit was that there were no clear time frames and it was "something half-cooked".
Meanwhile, MPs also heard on Tuesday that the SABC board had not been consulted prior to the decision by the broadcaster to approve R3m to sponsor the Department of Communications’ ICT Indaba in July.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has announced a probe of the alleged conflict of interest that Communications Minister Dina Pule had with the ICT Indaba, during which R25.7m in sponsorship money allegedly disappeared.
The SABC’s financial troubles are well documented. It borrowed R1.47bn — a government guaranteed loan — in 2009.
More in this section
- Media industry dragging feet on transformation
- EDITORIAL: State media influence grows
- SABC presenter Mbuli hailed as patriot and ‘zealous newshound’
- Dawes leaving Mail and Guardian for Indian paper
- Media groups urge court to lift blanket ban in Krejcir case
- Dropping 3rd Degree a ‘step back’ for media