Former South African Broadcasting Corporation board chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane has told Parliament that he had saved the public broadcaster.
Ngubane was testifying on Friday before the Parliamentary inquiry into the fitness of the SABC board to hold office.
Questioned on his tenure at the SABC, a defiant Ngubane told the committee that, contrary to the previous Public Protector’s report on the public broadcaster and the promotion of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, he had not caused any damage at the SABC.
“I did not cause damage at the SABC. I saved the SABC. It was bankrupt when we came, the regulations were not observed. It was in a mess and we sat around trying to stop the haemorrhaging of money from the SABC,” he told the committee.
Praise for Motsoeneng
Ngubane sang Motsoeneng’s praises, lauding him for pulling himself up to his positions.
He described Motsoeneng as a former street kid from Qwaqwa, with no parents, who had been street smart.
He had managed to get to matric on his own, Ngubane said, while explaining why academic qualifications had not been necessary for the acting chief operating officer position to which Motsoeneng had been promoted.
“There are many people employed full time at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, even today, who do not have matric,” he said.
He was grilled on whether he was aware that there was a salary increase of 63% in one year for Motsoeneng and whether it sat comfortably with him as an accounting officer.
“None of the audit findings point to that as irregular, improper or fruitless expenditure. Now comes a report from the side. [Hlaudi] came in from the provinces earning a really low salary, and was given positions to group executive. The disparity was huge,” Ngubane said in response.
He said the increase was not “abnormal” and that the disparities had to be corrected.
He repeatedly told the committee that he had not even followed or read the report, as it had been released after he left.
“I did not visit SABC offices at all after I left. So when I tell you I did not have sight of the report, that’s true.”
Earlier in the sitting, Ngubane told the committee that he had not been given enough time to prepare for the inquiry.
He had requested a postponement to January 16, and would therefore not be able to answer all questions, as he had not had a chance to collect all the necessary information.