News / South Africa / State Capture

Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
3 Sep 2019
12:53 pm

We inherited a mess, an organisation in financial ruin, SABC CEO tells Zondo

Makhosandile Zulu

Madoda Mxakwe says the broadcaster is, however, now on a path of rehabilitation and renewal.

SABC chief executive Madoda Mxakwe speaks about the public broadcaster’s woes yesterday. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The chief executive officer (CEO) of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Madoda Mxakwe, told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that when he assumed his role at the national broadcaster he found the entity “a mess” and in “financial ruin”.

Mxakwe said the process of turning around the SABC was “neverending”, with cases as far as back as 2012, some which had been deliberately ignored, surfacing on a daily basis, which Zondo said was very worrying.

“Chairperson, we inherited a mess, an organisation that was in financial ruin,” Mxakwe said.

Ethical leadership, a passion to serve the country and good business acumen were some of the qualities that Mxakwe noted were necessary for the executive of the SABC to possess to turn the entity around.

Furthermore, he said the broadcaster managed to stay afloat because of the competency of the team he led and the turnaround strategy that was in place, despite not receiving government funding.

Mxakwe said he was confident that should government funding be given, the current team would be able to turn the entity around.

Zondo said it was “critical to have the right management” and “the right people at board level” but the executive should also want to do what was right and parliament should properly exercise its oversight role, adding that it would have to be probed whether parliament had not “over-exercised” this role.

Furthermore, whether political heads have done their jobs properly with regards to the SABC would be scrutinised, Zondo said, adding that all this would be done to avoid a repeat of the same situation.

Mxakwe said that in the past ten years, the SABC had not been profitable, but said that should the turnaround strategy be recapitalised, he was confident that this would be to the benefit of the SABC.

Mxakwe also gave testimony on the interference of the SABC board, in particular in editorial independence and commercial deals at the SABC.

This interference had stifled the manner in which the executive was meant to perform its functions, he said.

He reiterated that what was of concern was that “we inherited an organisation which is a mess”, however, he said the SABC was now undergoing a process of rehabilitation and renewal.

Mxakwe said he expected the SABC would be supported, with a lack of funding and interference by some board members creating difficulty, which further created the impression that the executive was standing in the way of the government bailout.

Mxakwe said it was a no-brainer that a government bailout was needed at the SABC and that he did not understand why it had not been forthcoming since the preconditions tabled by the ministers of finance and communication to ensure the bailout had been met.

Zondo said one problem could be a lack of political will or a lack of appreciation of the urgency of the situation.

He added that “it’s quite clear” that the matter was urgent and needed to be attended to urgently.

The commission is now hearing testimony from the head of news at the SABC, Phathiswa Magopeni.

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