SABC in Tender Row
Johannesburg - After months of denials, City Press Business can reveal that Nomvula Matlare, wife of SABC chief executive Peter Matlare, was a shareholder in TBWA Hunt Lascaris when the agency won a R80m SABC account.
TBWA Hunt Lascaris managing director Richard Reast admitted Matlare was a shareholder at the time when his agency put the bid and won the lucrative SABC account.
Peter Matlare was a panel member that took the decision to award the tender to a company where his wife was shareholder.
The disclosure, confirmed by the agency's chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa, threatens to throw the whole bidding process into disrepute.
However, the public broadcaster has shrugged off the issue of a conflict of interest, adding there is nothing that warrants a review of the tender process.
SABC corporate affairs director Ihron Rensburg said allegations of a conflict of interest were addressed adequately during the tender process.
However, although he acknowledged Matlare disclosed that his wife worked for TBWA Hunt Lascaris, he remained mum about her shareholding status in the SABC.
The only explanation then was that the wife was only an employee at Hunt Lascaris, he said.
He said disciplinary action internally could only be taken once concrete evidence was put before the public broadcaster.
Rensburg was adamant the SABC would not use its power to request shareholding certificates of the agency to settle the matter.
"We don't want to join in a manhunt and fishing expedition," he explained.
Reast's confirmation that Nomvula Matlare was indeed one of the three former staff members who had a 2.5% stake in Hunt Lascaris at the time of the bid contradicts previous assertions that the process was flawless.
"Nomvula had a 1/4 percent," said Reast in response to the agency's ex-staffers' accusations that staff were not considered for share options in the agency and that empowerment at the agency was cosmetic.
Ramaphosa was surprised that anyone ever denied that Nomvula Matlare was a shareholder.
"Who denied it?" asked Ramaphosa.
"You spoke to Richard (Reast) and he told you the story.
"What else do you want to know from me?"
Nomvula Matlare says she had no shares in Hunt Lascaris. She was given options to take up shares, but never did. Peter Matlare was yet to return messages.
Reast called City Press on Friday, after the newspaper left a message for Matlare and said: "I have just received a call from an upset Peter Matlare. I'll put it on record to you that Nomvula never had shares in our company. She was offered 0.2% but never completed the transfer."
The chairperson of the SABC board dismissed the story as one of many rumours against the SABC CEO.
He said he wasn't able to say what steps the board would take.
At the announcement of the winners the SABC said it should be held accountable for the results.
The matter comes against the backdrop of an exodus of top black executives who have accused the agency of lack of commitment to empowerment.
The criterion on which they won the pitch was their empowerment credentials, which unhappy staff have branded as window dressing.
Losing bidders were uncertain of the way forward and said they believed in Matlare's integrity.
With acknowledgements to Dulile Sowaga and City Press.