A contentious R550 million deal between MultiChoice and the SABC to provide a 24 hour news channel on the DStv pay-tv service was passed to the broadcaster’s board as a “done deal”, having been negotiated by disgraced minister of communications, Dina Pule.
This is according to a report by the City Press, which cites SABC board meeting minutes of 7 February 2012, which describes how the board was told of the channel, and was pressured to deliver it with no budget or approved business plan.
Later minutes revealed that a deal between MultiChoice and the SABC had been executed – despite the fact that the SABC board had not seen documents of or approved the said deal.
The deal with MultiChoice – which includes controversial clauses on access control and broadcasting rights – was approved by an interim board and Dina Pule, and signed by acting COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
According to the minutes, Pule “seriously compromised” the SABC’s independence by putting pressure on the board through former board chairman Ben Ncube and group CEO, Lulama Mokhobo to approve the deal.
The City Press previously reported on a provisional report on the SABC from Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, which called out top executives and Pule for unlawful behaviour at the SABC.
Madonsela reportedly fingered Motsoeneng and Mokhobo for unlawful and improper conduct surrounding salary hikes and abuse of power.
According to MultiChoice, as quoted by the paper, the contract in question was negotiated by Mokhobo and the deal was approved by the board.
“We are not aware of the pressure put on SABC executives. We can’t comment on behalf of the SABC on their internal approval process,” MultiChoice said.
Pule and the SABC reserved comment, the paper reported.