The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

08 January 2010





The Faculty of Humanities, Wits University, in association with the Media Monitoring Africa and the Save Our SABC Coalition invite you to a public lecture and discussion by Dr Ruth Zanker, Head of Research and senior lecturer at the New Zealand Broadcasting School. Dr Zanker will discuss a topical issue on How do independence, corporate governance, programming, public accountability and funding play a significant role in the survival of public service broadcasting? Reflecting on the New Zealand experience.

Dr Zanker is a pioneering media educator who continues to be approached by the media to comment on the challenges that continue to face public broadcasting space in New Zealand. She has undertaken consultancies for the Broadcasting Standards Authority, New Zealand On Air (the funding agency) and the self-regulating Advertising Standards Authority. Her lecture comes at an interesting point in South Africa, says Prof. Tawana Kupe, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

“The recent crisis at the SABC and the proposed new Broadcasting Bill has highlighted threats to the independence and the viability of SABC funding going forward. New Zealand has faced similar challenges around the funding of public service broadcasting and its viability and has tried different models. The New Zealand experience would be relevant for the South African context,” explains Prof. Kupe.

On this evening, the Save Our SABC Coalition will release the draft response to the Department of Communications draft Bill on Public Broadcasting. The media and the public are invited to attend.

Date: Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Time: 18:00 – 20:00
Venue: Graduate Studies Seminar Room, South West Engineering Building, East Campus. Free parking available in Senate House Basement off Jorissen Street.

For media interviews please contact: Prof. Tawana Kupe on 078 459 6041; William Bird, Media Monitoring Africa on 082 887 1370 or Kate Skinner, Save Our SABC Coalition on 082 926 6404.


Buhle Zuma
Communications Officer
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Tel: 011 717 1018
Fax: 086 5533 092

A Message from the SOS Coordinator

Hello all

Happy New Year! Hope 2010 is a great year for public broadcasting.

As I am sure you are all aware 2010 has started with a bang but not for all the most positive reasons. Controversy has hit the SABC from the get-go. As you will have seen from articles in the Sunday Times, Business Day etc. allegations have been made that members of the new permanent board are unhappy with the appointment of the GCEO, Solly Mokoetle. According to the Sunday Times new Board members would have preferred to make the GCEO appointment themselves.

Further, a forensic audit report - known as the Gobodo Report commissioned in 2005 - has suddenly been leaked to the press . According to the Sunday Times the Gobodo report includes serious allegations against Solly in terms of failure to implement good corporate governance practices at the SABC during his tenure at the Corporation.

I have spoken to a number of people including members of the interim board, new board and independent producers. From these discussions the following has emerged:

- The interim board followed standard labour practices as regards the appointment of Solly.
- The Gobodo Report was commissioned by the SABC Board in 2005. Board member Christine Qunta played an active role. The mandate of the report was to look at corruption in commissioning practices at the SABC. Allegations were made against a number of independent production houses and a number of internal SABC staff. Solly was one of the many people named in the report. He took the allegations against him to the labour court and was exonerated.
- The Gobodo Report was never publically released. it was never entirely clear what the allegations were in terms of a number of individuals and companies. The charge sheets were never given to the accused.

In response to the issues outlined above SOS has stated the following:

- We think it would have been more ideal for the new board to have made the appointment of the new GCEO to ensure the best possible working relationship between themselves and management. That being said however, SOS welcomes Solly's appointment.
- To make sure that Solly does not start with any black cloud's over his head the new board needs to go back to the Gobodo Report. They need to satisfy themselves - and the general public - that there are no outstanding issues in this regard. If there are outstanding issues then these need to be appropriately dealt with.
- However, if there are no outstanding issues then Solly and the Board must make sure that they do not get unnecessarily diverted by the Report. There are enormous issues to deal with including the entire turn-around of the SABC.

What do people think?

Just one further issue - I attended the MK Military Veterans and CWU press conference this morning at Luthuli House dealing with Solly's appointment. The MK veterans and CWU spokespeople confirmed their support for Solly. They claimed that he had excellent broadcasting experience. They argued that his appointment by the interim board was entirely appropriate, fair and transparent.

Kate Skinner
SOS - Coordinator
SOS - Supporting Public Broadcasting, previously "Save our SABC" --
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Open Letter to the New SABC Board

The recent references in the press to the much maligned Gobodo audit report have prompted us to issue this open letter.

The Gobodo report was initiated by a SABC Board chaired by Eddie Funde and his deputy Christine Qunta. Although the terms of reference were never openly articulated, our understanding is that the forensic audit enquiry was set up to investigate claims by individuals within the SABC of irregularities and collusion in the SABC’s commissioning process. The enquiry was undertaken at great expense to the public and exacted a heavy toll on those being investigated inside and outside the SABC.

The individuals and companies interviewed during the investigation were never formally advised of any allegations against them nor given an opportunity to read the report or to defend themselves. However the report was presented to the Funde Board – a report which we understand contained a number of unfounded allegations and innuendo.

Along with the infighting within the SABC over the past eight years or so, we have seen a period where character assassination entered into our political culture. We believe that the Gobodo report has been put to sinister use and continues to be used for dubious ends.

We wonder whether the resurrection of this report is not yet another attempt to divert our attention away from the findings of the recent AG report which deals with the disarray that the SABC found itself in at the end of the Funde/Qunta reign.

It is a pity that the new SABC Board and GCEO are having their attention side-tracked by a five year old report that apparently deals with conspiracy theories. They should rather get stuck into the task of rebuilding the teetering public broadcaster, which still has a huge debt outstanding to the production industry and is in desperate need of new content and morale.

The real issue at hand is that the Board needs to tell the public and the industry what it will be doing about the 2009 forensic report of the AG. We understand that the AG’s findings ultimately raise questions about the legally binding fiduciary responsibilities of the previous two Boards.

We call on the SABC Board to put the chapter of conspiracy theories (and reign by fear and rumour) of the institution’s history behind us and do either of the following: Get legal opinion and act upon the report if there is substance (thereby allowing the respondents a fair and legally transparent process) OR openly declare the enquiry and the subsequent report as flawed and invalid.

Charl: 082-6813680

This statement is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

06 January 2010

COPE asks minister for answers on SABC boss

Jocelyn Newmarch, Business Day, 6 January 2009

THE Congress of the People (COPE) has called on Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda to explain Solly Mokoetle’s appointment as SABC group CEO when a disciplinary hearing suggested he face criminal charges.

The controversy around Mokoetle’s appointment erupted after weekend media reports said the new board was unhappy with the choice of CEO.

The saga has inflamed fears that the SABC, which needs to be stabilised, may instead be facing another damaging battle.

Mokoetle was appointed by the interim board late last year, and started work this week.

The appointment has been controversial as some observers believe it should have been left to the new board, which takes office next week.

It was reported in weekend papers that Mokoetle had been accused of a major failure of corporate governance in a 2005 investigation carried out by Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting.
Mokoetle left the SABC in 2006, after serving as the organisation’s chief operating officer. The Gobodo Report was not released and was not acted on by successive SABC boards.

The investigation apparently dealt with the practice of “collusive tendering”, whereby some production companies had relationships with senior executives at the SABC.

Yesterday, COPE called on the SABC’s board to make public the charges Mokoetle faced.
COPE said it had learned that Mokoetle was “subjected to a disciplinary process” when he was chief operating officer at the SABC. “Despite this, the minister has seen fit to appoint this person as CEO of the SABC.”

The TV Industry Emergency Coalition, which represents TV production companies, welcomed the choice of Mokoetle as CEO but said it was unfortunate that the appointment had not been left to the new board.

South African Filmmakers and Copyright

The International Copyright Balance and Documentary Film Project of American University has released a groundbreaking report and film on the experiences of South African documentary filmmakers with copyright clearance obligations. The report and film are the result of a joint project of American University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property and Center for Social Media, partnering with the South African Documentary Filmmakers Association and Black Filmmakers Network. South African filmmakers encounter many of the same frustrations that U.S. documentary filmmakers used to, in a "clearance culture" where all quotations from copyrighted work are typically licensed--often unnecessarily. South African filmmakers are taking action to expand their opportunities. The report and film were simultaneously released in December. You can see them both here:

05 January 2010

Response to Sunday Times lead story of 3 January 2010

Response to Sunday Times lead story of 3 January 2010:
‘Fresh Crisis Rocks SABC’
The TVIEC wishes to state that our position has been misrepresented in the above-mentioned article with regards the appointment of Mr Solly Mokoetle as GCEO of the SABC. We do not feel Mr Mokoetle’s appointment was ‘unfortunate’ as the article alludes. On the contrary, we stated publicly and to the Sunday Times that we had no problem with Mr Mokoetla’s appointment and welcomed him, however we found it unfortunate that this appointment was made on the eve of the SABC Interim Board’s departure and not left to the incoming board as they will be working closely with the new GCEO.
We went on to state that our major concern is that the Interim Board is leaving the SABC without meeting its promise to the independent production sector to pay all outstanding debt to producers, writers and actors by the end of November 2009. In this regard the new board and Mr Mokoetle will be inheriting a substantial debt to our sector.
We have in good faith negotiated with the Interim Board and acting SABC management to receive outstanding payments and feel let down. In addition, the SABC has allowed repeat broadcasts of programmes to go ahead without paying actors and writers for these repeats as is contractual, thus increasing the debt to independent sector. The Interim Board’s view that payment of repeats should be sorted out by management and was not their responsibility is very disappointing and the TVIEC views this as an abdication of fiscal responsibility.
Some eight months have passed since the TVIEC marched to the SABC demanding payment of debt and despite some small payments of amounts under R200 000 and countless promises, our members are still largely unpaid. The TVIEC will insist that the SABC now resolves the matter speedily.
Below we include a copy of the press release issued by the TVIEC on the 18th of December 2009 which confirms and clarifies the above.
1. Welcome to the incoming SABC board and GCEO
The Television Industry Emergency Coalition congratulates the new SABC board on their raitfication and welcomes Doctor Ben Ngubane as Chairman, Ms Felleng Sekha as Deputy Chair, as well as Mr Solly Mokoetle as GCEO. We are indeed pleased that 2010 will start of with fresh leadership and look forward to working with the new board and GCEO to turning the SABC around into a profitable institution that is answerable to the South African public and a jewel in our national crown.
However, while we welcome the new GCEO, we question why the interim board made this sudden and unexpected announcement and did not defer the appointment to the incoming permanent board given that they are weeks away from taking the helm of the SABC. This seems to undermine the incoming board from the outset. We trust the GCEO and the new board will meet as soon as possible to forge a relationship of their own.
We also wish to state that we are very disappointed that the SABC Interim Board has not kept its word to our sector in resolving the crisis around non-payment to producers and artists. There remain millions of rands in unpaid debt to the independent production sector and this amount is growing daily due to repeat broadcasts that are not being paid to actors, writers and production companies. Despite numerous promises by the Interim Board that paying the independent production sector was one of the clear objectives of their tenure, this has not been achieved and we feel duped.
We call upon the new board and GCEO to act swiftly in resolving the matter of outstanding debt to our sector as unfortunately the Interim Board and management have abused the goodwill of the independent production sector and people now demand payment to be made swiftly and without further delays. This must be a priority on their incoming Board’s agenda, together with resolving the ongoing operational crisis at the SABC. To this end we commit to working with the GCEO and board to ensure that this matter is now swiftly settled.
2. Formalised labour meets formalised business
The crisis at the SABC has seen a historic coming together of formalised business and labour in the film and television industry. The CWUSA (Creative Workers Union of South Africa), IPO (Independent Producers Association) and SASFED (South African Screen Federation) have committed to a two-day workshop on the 3rd and 4th of February to seek out and agree to a common vision and roadmap for the industry with a focus on building sustainable livelihoods for creative workers and businesses. Key issues will be intellectual property ownership, fair trade and financial agreements between broadcasters, producers and artists - and a revitalised focus on building local content.
Our industry has paid a heavy price for the management and financial crisis at the SABC. It has led to company closures, retrenchments and job losses. We cannot let that happen again.
We are committed to building a sustainable and responsible production sector that is able to meet the demands and needs of our democracy and economy, and offer sustainable employment in line with the objectives of our government.
Our sector has huge capacity for job creation and we are committed to growing and developing skills.
We commit our support to President Zuma’s call to the nation to continue working to create a united cohesive society out of our fragmented past. To continue promoting unity in diversity and to develop a shared value system based on the spirit of community solidarity and a caring society.
We are committed to become active citizens in the renewal of our country and within our sector to work together, to help where we can to speed up its economic growth and sustainability and to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods for all in our industry.
Charl: 082-6813680
This press release is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

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New Heartlines Video

Dear Members,

We felt this video was worth sharing. It was created by Curious Pictures, directed by Donovan Marsh and edited by Catherine Daymond.

04 January 2010

Beyond King of the Mountain

Dear Members,

Ryan Haidarian made a 23 minute film about it called BEYOND KING OF THE MOUNTAIN and would love for you to watch it. Here's a question he's been looking at: Can we conceive of democracy that is not structured as a contest?


Reports of tensions at SABC downplayed

Jocelyn Newmarch, Business Day, Johannesburg, 4 January 2009

THE SABC’s new group CEO, Solly Mokoetle, starts his first day on the job today amid fears that his tenure at the broadcaster could once again see a damaging battle between board and executive management.

A power struggle between previous group CEO Dali Mpofu and then board chairwoman Kanyi Mkonza paralysed the organisation for almost a year.

The board eventually disbanded after resignations, and it was replaced by an interim board led by businesswoman Irene Charnley.

The interim board appointed Mokoetle CEO as one of its last acts before the new board takes over on January 10.

Weekend reports suggested tension among designated board members about his appointment. Members anonymously criticised the interim board’s decision to appoint him, and suggested that Mokoetle, the SABC’s former chief operating officer, was tainted by a 2005 audit report.
These board members argued the appointment was supposed to have been left to the new board, which is expected to work with the CEO.

Mokoetle said yesterday he was cleared of all wrongdoing, and the Labour Court threw out the Gobodo audit report.

Charnley said the interim board followed due process when appointing Mokoetle, and did so transparently. She said the previous board short-listed three candidates, including Mokoetle, for the position, and the interim board opened the process, and advertised the position.

“We followed everything according to the articles of association,” Charnley said.
She said the interim board obtained a legal opinion on whether the board-designate should be included in the decision, but as it had not been appointed it could not be involved. “If we had had to involve them, someone would now be challenging it,” Charnley said.

She said Mokoetle did an excellent job during his previous tenure at the SABC.
In an interview with Business Day yesterday, Mokoetle said his main priority now was to stabilise the SABC and establish good relations with the board.

David Niddrie, a member of the board-designate, said yesterday that the board would apply its mind on the CEO issue only after it had met.

He dismissed suggestions that board members might take legal action against Mokoetle. “We weren’t put in place to continue the soap opera,” he said.

Kate Skinner, spokeswoman for the Save Our SABC campaign, said Mokoetle and the new board faced an “enormous task” in attempting to turn the organisation around.
“Let’s not get diverted, let’s look at the real issues,” she said, questioning why a 2005 report should be leaked at this stage.
A source close to the process suggested that the leak could have come from an unsuccessful candidate for Mokoetle’s job, or from a disgruntled member of management who would prefer to undermine Mokoetle from the beginning, in order to safeguard their own jobs.

The audit report, compiled by Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting, was not released publicly , but was quoted extensively in a Sunday Times report yesterday.

Skinner said it appeared that the report contained “wild accusations” and “defamatory comments” but without any evidence to back up its accusations.

She said that at the time of its commissioning, legal action would have been taken if there had been evidence supporting its findings.

The Gobodo report, according to the Sunday Times, accused Mokoetle of corporate governance failures relating to content commissioning.

Fresh crisis rocks SABC

New board members vow to challenge imposition of CEO

Charles Molele, Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 2 January 2009

The SABC has been rocked by a new row with members of the newly appointed board protesting the imposition of a CEO on them by the outgoing board.

At the heart of the dispute is the appointment by the outgoing interim board of former chief operations officer Solly Mokoetle as the new boss of the public broadcaster.
Mokoetle replaces Gab Mampone, who had been acting CEO since Dali Mpofu was suspended 19 months ago - and then given a R12-million payout last year.

Angry members of the newly appointed SABC board have told the Sunday Times that they will challenge the appointment of Mokoetle, who as COO left the SABC in a huff following a damning audit report compiled by Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting in 2005.
The report found that he had badly failed in his corporate governance duties.

Board members said Mokoetle's appointment, which has been approved by the Minister of Communications, Siphiwe Nyanda, had the potential to plunge the SABC into "total chaos" and subject it to the same dysfunctional relationship that existed between the board and management during Mpofu's time.

"This means we won't be able to appoint our own CEO, as boards usually do ... The appointment was very unfortunate and a flagrant disregard of due process," said one member.
The new board members said they intended to act on the Gobodo report and would urgently summon Mokoetle to a meeting to discuss it.

The appointment has also been condemned by the ANC Youth League and the Television Industry Emergency Coalition , which represents actors and production companies.

The Gobodo report, which has been kept under wraps until now, found that the SABC commissioning department- which reported directly to Mokoetle - had paid about R56-million to companies involved in "collusive tendering". Collusive tendering, according to Gobodo, was "a secret agreement between perceived competitors, or between a tenderer and an official who participates in the awarding process" with the intention to defraud the entity that called for the tender.

The Gobodo investigation identified companies responsible for collusive tendering, through links such as cross shareholdings or common directorships.

The report also found that a list of companies had received preferential treatment in the awarding of productions by corrupt SABC employees.

The Gobodo investigation could not pronounce on suspected kickbacks as it was not mandated to investigate "finances of suspected individuals, especially the suspected flow of funds between tenderers and employees". It noted that this aspect could be properly probed by the "appropriate investigating authorities".

The Gobodo report recommended, among other things, "that appropriate disciplinary action be considered against those employees of the SABC ... identified in the executive summary of our report.

"Based on the fact that the actions of individuals, prima facie, constitute possible tendering or unlawful conduct, we recommend that the SABC considers making our report available to appropriate investigating authorities, like the Commercial Crimes Unit of the SAPS or the Scorpions."

The report pointed out that the Operational Executive Committee of January 22 2001 had recorded that Mokoetle "be accountable for all the governance issues relating to purchasing of programmes".
"The minutes further record that the COO should issue a document in which Exco members and all SABC's staff declare their interests in any service or transaction or related matter, that could affect the SABC." Mokoetle failed to do as instructed. The report also noted several instances where Mokoetle was among the officials who approved the commissioning of TV production companies said to be involved in collusive tendering.

The Gobodo report found that commissioned production companies were owned by friends of senior employees of the SABC's commissioning department, who awarded tenders without following established procedures.

After the report was handed to the SABC board and the group executive, Mokoetle was escorted out of the SABC building by security guards. He later joined the stop-start Telkom Media television station, where he worked as chief content officer.

Neither the Eddie Funde-led board nor the next board, led by Kanyi Mkonza, acted on the report. A member of the incoming board has called this "a dereliction of duty on their part".

One of the new board members said they were "concerned that the interim board went ahead with the appointment despite knowledge of adverse information against the incumbent".

"This raises the issue of validity and legality of Mokoetle's appointment. It is not a procedural issue in terms of labour law but it is a substantive issue," the board member said.

The board member said together with the previous boards, the interim board had breached the Companies Act, the Broadcasting Act and King II Report on Corporate Governance by appointing a "compromised candidate".

Outgoing chairman Irene Charnley defended her interim board's action.
"There is nothing in the Broadcasting Act's article 11 and 19 saying we could not appoint," said Charnley.

Lumka & Associates, the recruitment agency which interviewed Mokoetle and other candidates for the position, said it was not aware of the Gobodo report and its recommendations.
Together with the new board, Mokoetle will have to come up with strategies to turn around the fortunes of the broadcaster, which reported a R910-million loss in the 2008-2009 financial year. The government has approved a R1.47-billion loan guarantee against which the SABC can borrow in the markets.

ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu slammed the interim board's actions. "We believe the interim board acted irresponsibly," he said. "We would have loved to see the new board appointing the CEO because he will be accountable to them and both are supposed to work together for the next five years."

The Television Industry Emergency Coalition echoed these sentiments.
"We consider it very unfortunate," said the organisation's Desiree Markgraaf. "What pushed them to rush and appoint? The new board is going to run the SABC together with the new CEO for five years. Surely they are the ones who should have made the appointment?"

Mokoetle's lawyer, Bongani Dlodlo, said his client denied any wrongdoing during his tenure at the SABC "whether arising from the Gobodo forensic report or any other allegations thereof". Dlodlo said no governance transgressions could be levelled against Mokoetle, and his fitness to lead the SABC was not in doubt. "Our client has nothing to hide," he said.