THE SABC is to withhold the pensions of its former COO‚ Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ and CFO‚ James Aguma‚ in a bid to recover irregular benefits enjoyed during their tenure.
This was disclosed to parliament on Tuesday by SABC interim board chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama during a presentation of their progress report on their turnaround of the embattled broadcaster to the portfolio committee on communications.
The withholding of his pension payout will come as a double-whammy for Motsoeneng‚ with the board also demanding that he pay back a R11 million bonus linked to a deal granting the transfer of the SABC archives to pay-TV operator MultiChoice.
“Proceedings have commenced to exercise a lien (right to withhold until debt is settled) over pension payments due to Mr Aguma and Motsoeneng and arrangements are underway to institute urgent legal action necessary‚” said Kweyama.
She said the board had already commenced with legal action to recover other monies from Motsoeneng and Aguma “which they received irregularly.”
This comes in the wake of revelations that Motsoeneng was still determined to challenge his dismissal from the SABC after he filed a challenge in the Commission of Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration which is due to be heard on Wednesday.
During the meeting‚ MPs also accused President Jacob Zuma of dithering in approving a full probe into the affairs of the SABC and possible criminal activity by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Zuma was “delaying justice” in not signing the proclamation mandating the SIU to probe possible criminality at the SABC.
“So the SIU can’t move and let the country know. It’s because of Mr Zuma. He’s sitting on the proclamation‚ it’s unacceptable. Maybe he’s implicated. Maybe his friends are again implicated…” said Ndlozi.
He said Zuma had been sitting on the proclamation for months.
Ndlozi urged the interim board to press charges against Motsoeneng and Aguma.
“Why haven’t you pressed criminal charges? I’m not happy. I think you are adopting the same process of being slow like the president of the Republic‚” said Ndlozi.
ANC MP and committee chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana said the justice committee was looking into how the SIU should proceed on the matter of the SABC.
“They are handling it and I think we must also have that interaction with justice portfolio committee on the matters so that we know who is delaying this thing‚” said Maxegwana.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme said it was very concerning that the president hasn’t signed the SIU proclamation.
“It might be worth it again from parliament or from this committee to write a letter to the president on when will you approve the SIU proclamation‚” said Van Damme.
Another ANC MP‚ Lerumo Kalako‚ asked the interim board if they have received any report from the SIU.
“People who have done wrong are given long leeway because of unending investigations of SIU‚” said Kalako.
In her report Kweyama said the SABC commissioned the SIU to conduct a forensic investigation into fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred between 2012 and March 31 this year amounting to more than R5-billion.
“The board has sought legal opinion on the liability of (former) board members‚ group executives and officials who knowingly participated in the making of decisions or accede to decisions being made which are contrary to the policies of the corporation‚ principles of corporate governance contained in the King Code of Governance and in breach of the legislative framework governing the corporation‚” said Kweyama.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, ANC’s study group on communications said the work by the interim board is “commendable”, reports Sydney Morweng, news editor.
The study group is pleased by the board progress and welcomes the repeal of the broadcasting ban on violent footage, Kalako said.
He said the board’s process to consult the public on an editorial policy review, as required by legislation, is also praiseworthy.
The interim board was appointed by Zuma in March following a damning report by an ad hoc committee.
Their term is expected to come to an end in September when a permanent board will be appointed.