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ANC Communications Study Group pleased with MDDA and SABC Progress

12 October 2018

The ANC Study Group on Communications is pleased with the progress of the Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA) in so far as having received an unqualified audit opinion in matters relating to financial statements from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA). The MDDA and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) appeared before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications to present their Annual Reports for the 2017/2018 financial year on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

We welcome the report that the MDDA has appointed a permanent Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and that 29 of 39 posts have been filled, with only 10 posts remaining vacant at the agency. We hope this will bring stability and ensure that the agency delivers on its core mandate, which is to encourage access and ownership of the media by previously disadvantaged people.

However, we note with concern that the MDDA did not accomplish nearly half of its Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) because of the board's inability to form a quorum. This non-compliance goes against the grain of what is expected from board members. Not only does it impede government's efforts to empower communities through access and ownership of media, but also hamstrings the agency from doing its work. The failure by the board to constitute a quorum also results in funding for small community projects not being approved.

The R32 million in irregular expenditure reported is also cause for concern. We trust that the MDDA board will be able to overcome such challenges in the future because such expenditures adversely affect the agency's ability to fulfil its mandate.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is headed in the right direction. The board reported that salaries of directors at the SABC had been reduced from R79.7 million in the 2016/2017 financial year, to R45 million in the current 2017/2018 financial year. This is laudable and evident that cost-cutting measures are being implemented at the public broadcaster.

The wage bill at the SABC is by all accounts worrying; at R3 billion, it remains the largest expenditure item and a heavy burden on the public broadcaster. Despite this, the SABC board reassured parliament that discussions with relevant stakeholders are on-going and that no new staff is being hired, nor are there any retrenchments on the near horizon.

It is also commendable that there's been a 1% improvement in commercial revenue at the SABC, which translates into an income of R56 million. However, we remain concerned by the liquidity issues the entity is beleaguered by.

The public broadcaster is evidently in a transitional phase of restoration and renewal. The appointment of a permanent board, and an executive team has brought much needed stability at the SABC. We hope this stability will result in good corporate governance and an improvement in the financial health of the public broadcaster.

Issued by ANC Study Group on Communications Whip, Comrade Mziwamadoda Kalako.


Nonceba Mhlauli

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