South Africa: SABC lacks skills for digital migration

Technology & Convergence

Marian Shinn, the DA's Shadow Minister of Communications, says that the SABC does not have the skills to successfully transition to digital broadcasting before the international deadline of June 2015.

Shinn says the "shocking state of skill availability at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) - from executive management down" - was laid bare before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications this week.

Shinn says an independent skills audit conducted - at the committee's insistence - by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) revealed that the SABC does not have the appropriate skill levels to successfully transition to digital broadcasting before the international deadline of June 2015.

The independent audit report also revealed the following:

•    60% of executive and senior managers do not meet the minimum strategic thinking skills for executives;
•    56% were unable to demonstrate adequate levels in solving problems and making decisions;
•    15% demonstrated only marginal competence in strategic thinking; and
•    35% of the group did not consider the financial information provided to them as a skills test during the audit.

Shinn says staff respondents stated that they "do not trust the management team or the Board and that "they question the credibility of the above-mentioned [sic] and in general demonstrate a negative attitude towards the organisation which could negatively influence the total corporate culture."

Furthermore, only 45% of the respondents have a "well-developed sense of reliability and dependability in the work environment".

"This clearly explains why the SABC - which generated R6,6bn in 2013 - received as disclaimer of opinion, the worst possible rating from the Auditor-General last year and why it continuously fails to meet its targets laid down by National Treasury as conditions for the loan guarantee needed for its strategic turnaround," says Shinn.

In her statement, Shinn says SABC Group CEO Lulama Mokhobo (who has just resigned) told the committee that a three-phase strategy was in place to re-align the structure of the corporation using the information from the skills audit and a substantial renewal would be in place.

"Minister Yunus Carrim cannot entrust the envisaged renewal to the current senior and executive management team. They clearly do not have the appropriate skills and their staff does not trust them to do this successfully," says Shinn, adding...

"I again call on Communications Minister Carrim to take drastic steps to arrest the failures at the public broadcaster by considering implementing some form of management rescue, such as judicial management."