Alleged improper deals between the SABC and the Gupta-owned The New Age Media should be probed and, if there has been wrongdoing, be terminated.
This is according to an official working document leaked on Tuesday night, following the parliamentary ad hoc committee’s inquiry into the SABC board’s fitness to hold office.
The SABC must review the business case of entering into an agreement with rival TV stations, to ensure that the public broadcaster is not involved in any cross-subsidisation to the competition, it states.
“In all instances where such deals are in essence diverting resources from the SABC, such deals must be terminated,” it said.
Former SABC group chief executive of technology, Sipho Masinga, told the ad hoc committee in December that a meeting had been arranged between himself and a representative of TNA Media, the parent company of ANN7.
“During the meeting attempts were made to ‘sell’ an agreement which would effectively allow New Age Media to take over SABC news and rebrand it,” the working document reads.
Veteran journalist Vuyo Mvoko testified in December that resources were being diverted from the SABC’s Morning Live show to host the New Age breakfasts on air.
Former board chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane testified on Friday that a business plan regarding the breakfasts was brought to him, and that the SABC had incurred no costs at all.
The committee could not establish beyond doubt whether the distribution of the New Age newspaper was still the norm at the SABC. Nor could it establish the financial value of the agreement with TNA Media.
It did say it was obvious that the SABC, while it was facing financial difficulties, appeared to have signed exclusive contracts to distribute a newspaper subscription on a national scale.
“All potential misleading or contradictory evidence relating to SABC board minutes, commercially sensitive documentation not provided, costs incurred by the SABC in hosting the TNA breakfast show… must be further investigated by the SABC interim board/Parliament and sanctions applied where proof of perjury is proven,” the document reads.
Ad hoc committee member Steve Swart told News24 on Wednesday that the working document had no legal standing yet. He expected it to be amended substantially during the committee’s meeting on Thursday.
Swart said contradictions during testimonies regarding the alleged Gupta/SABC deals deserved a forensic investigation.
Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme said in a statement on Wednesday that the party was studying the working document. It was a “a good start” and needed more work, she said.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.