10 January 2013

South Africa: SABC Board Must Explain Acting Coo?s Staff Expansion Actions

press release

The SABC's Acting Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, may have acted in contravention of the public loan agreement with National Treasury that underpins the public broadcaster's vital turnaround when he instructed that freelancers should be converted to permanent staff.

One of the terms of the strategy to turn around the debt- and corruption-ridden corporation is a significant reduction in head count, not an expansion of staff. At the SABC's last report back to the portfolio committee on communications last year, it was evident that SABC management was deliberately stalling the reduction of staff.

I will today write to the chairman of the SABC Board, Dr Ben Ngubane, to ascertain whether the board approved Mr Motsoeneng's action to convert freelancers to permanent staff, and if so, under what conditions. If this was a unilateral decision by Mr Motsoeneng I would like Dr Ngubane to publicly explain what action will be taken against the Acting COO for this action.

The Star reported today that Mr Motsoeneng issued an internal instruction in November to convert surpluss freelancers into full-time employees. He also threatened "consequences" if SABC management and HR staff did not find the nesessary millions of rands within the budget to implement this conversion within the current 2012/13 financial year.

Mr Motsoeneng also apparently ignored the protests against this staff expansion move by the SABC's acting chief financial officer, Tian Olivier.

The SABC is in the throes of a skills audit to identify which employees have appropriate skills and experience for the corporation's needs. Initially this audit was being done by HR staff within the corporation, but after I criticised the dangers of partiality in undertaking an internal survey, the SABC advertised for external experts to do the audit.

Until this independent skills audit is completed the corporation is in no position to identify skills gaps and fill them, even if the Treasury's restrictions on staff expansion were not in place.

Marian Shinn, DA Spokesperson on Communications

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