SABC bosses were grilled in parliament on Wednesday about R14m being spent on a single awards ceremony and after party.
Image: Robbie Tshabalala

MPs serving on the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) have told the SABC top brass that it was unfair of them to retrench ordinary workers while the public broadcaster was spending millions of rands on parties and bonuses.

The SABC board and its senior executives, including CEO Madoda Mxakwe and head of human resources Jonathan Thekiso, were appearing before Scopa on Wednesday to account for irregular expenditure incurred by the public broadcaster in the past year.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth told the SABC board that it was simply unjustifiable that workers were facing retrenchment when radio stations — such as Metro FM — had splurged as much as R14m on an awards ceremony and after-party during the 2017/18 financial year.

"How do you think people who about to be retrenched are going to feel about the fact that the Metro FM awards and after-party cost R14m and that your CEO earns R5m? How are they going to respond to that?" asked Brauteseth. “In the sea of luxury, people are going to be retrenched.”

SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini said that as part of cost-containment measures the national broadcaster would no longer allow frivolous or exorbitant spending of public money.

“These are part of our cost-cutting. Our austerity measures have saved us about R400m.

“If people don’t see any efforts to cut costs and drive efficiencies, they will be very disappointed.”

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said it was suspicious that Tshifhiwa Mulaudzi, the head of commercial enterprises at the SABC, had been the only member of the executive committee - bar former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng - who had received a performance bonus during the period under review.

When Thekiso tried to explain the matter, Scopa chair Themba Godi dismissed him, saying he did not sound like he knew what he was talking about.

“So you don’t know why Mr Mulaudzi received this bonus because, what you’re telling us [is] speculating. Sitting here, you can’t tell precisely what it is that he had done,” said Godi.

Hlengwa also said there was no "standardised" remuneration regime at the SABC, particularly when it came to on-air talent management.

"I am still not convinced that salaries are decided on the basis of standardisation. It’s one of those where they look at you and decide your worth. Can we get a schedule of the salaries of your anchors," he requested.

“I am not interested in names, we’ll deal with names later, just the principle. There were people who were brought in and out and we want to look at the offers that were made to those people so that at the very least we satisfy ourselves that so-called standardisation actually exists.