As Motsoeneng rises, the SABC's finances falter
The SABC's financial fortunes have plummeted since its embattled chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, effectively took the helm at the broadcaster just over a year ago. Last month, the Sunday Times revealed the SABC faced massive losses this year despite telling parliament it was financially stable.Now, financial statements finalised on May 27 and submitted to the auditor-general four days later reveal the broadcaster's parlous financial state is even worse than previously thought.The unaudited statements seen by the Sunday Times reveal that on Motsoeneng's watch the SABC has a projected loss of almost R400-million and a drop in cash and equivalents of R405-million.They also show the SABC spent almost R420-million on freelancers, up from R334-million last year, and R3.2-billion on permanent staff, up from R2.3-billion last year.story_article_left1The final audited statements will be made public only in September.The unaudited statements reveal the broadcaster made a litany of accounting errors, forcing it to restate past performance. The most dramatic change is that the SABC actually made a profit of more than R1-billion in the year before Motsoeneng took over from Lulama Mokhobo in February 2014. Up to now the SABC's financials reflected a profit of only R651-million for the past year under Mokhobo's tenure.This suggests the SABC faces a plunge in financial fortunes of almost R1.4-billion since Motsoeneng took over, rather than just R1-billion as previously thought.The SABC's chief financial officer, James Aguma, who has controlled finances since March last year, said errors listed in the statements reflected his determination to correct past accounting mistakes. "The current regime is making sure it detects what was not done properly before," he said. He insisted the SABC was "marching towards an unqualified audit".Motsoeneng declined to discuss any of the figures in the statements submitted to the auditor-general. "It's still a working document," he said. "We need to respect the rules and the law. We can only talk about it in September."He claims to have implemented measures to make the SABC more viable. "Our strategy is to grow revenues by growing audiences and improving technology," he said.However, pay disputes with staff are likely to worsen matters. Wage negotiations have deadlocked with the two major unions at the SABC, the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers' Union and the Communications Workers' Union.Motsoeneng has offered them an 8% salary increase, but the unions wanted 15%, before dropping to 10%.