Probe into dodgy R1bn SABC contract - TechCentral

Probe into dodgy R1bn SABC contract

SABCThe SABC’s interim board is contesting a R1bn contract, the SABC reported on Tuesday. The deal, which came to light in the board’s examination of the corporation’s financial records, was revealed in a presentation to parliament’s communications portfolio committee in Cape Town.

Details could not be made public as the matter was under investigation.

The SABC said criminal charges could be brought against entities identified in the auditor-general’s report on the SABC. A preliminary report had been forwarded to the police. “There were meetings with the authorities to frame the charges and the prosecution of claims. A final list of charges has been framed and I think there are two possible criminal charges,” said interim board chair Irene Charnley.

The cash-strapped SABC will start turning a profit by 2012, MPs heard on Tuesday. “Losses will come down and the corporation [will]move to profitability by March 2012,” Charnley told the committee.

The broadcaster planned to repay all its debts by the end of the  2014 financial year.

Over and above the R200m it was granted by the national treasury last week, the SABC has applied for a five-year government  guarantee of R1,4bn. This would “allow the corporation to borrow money from institutions”, Charnley said.

On the R200m, she said the broadcaster would receive the funds between November and March next year, and would use the money to pay for commissioned local content programmes.

Charnley told MPs the corporation’s losses stood at R910m, but that this figure was expected to start dropping, “even in this financial year”. The figure would not rise, she assured the committee.

A “big problem” was costs, which had risen steeply, and remained higher than the corporation’s income.

The SABC had also run an overdraft of between R580m and R600m since March, the start of the current financial year.

Cost-cutting measures and a turnaround strategy implemented by the interim board in the past four-and-a-half months had saved the corporation about R65m.

Charnley said the SABC was now “stable”, and the interim board was preparing to hand over to the recently announced permanent board in the middle of November.  — Sapa

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