17 September 2018
The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) notes the announcement made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Friday 14 September that they had “met with organized labour to inform them that they were contemplating implementing Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA)” – and thus retrenchments at the SABC. The SABC announced that this was being explored among a number of cost-cutting measures.
SANEF notes the dire financial situation the Corporation finds itself in. The SABC had a net loss of R622 million for the 2017/2018 financial year. One of the biggest cost drivers was the salary bill. The SABC is a R7.2bn revenue generating company with a salary bill of R3.1bn.
SANEF notes the fact that part of the dire financial situation the SABC finds itself in is due to the reckless mismanagement of the SABC epitomized by COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. This included his mismanagement of human resources. Also, SANEF notes the lack of oversight from Parliament and the Regulator during this dark period. Going forward it is critical that the capacity of these governance and oversight structures are strengthened. SANEF notes that the cruelty of the situation is that workers, once again, are at the receiving end of leadership abuse and negligence.
SANEF believes that only if all other cost cutting options have been explored, should the Corporation contemplate retrenchments. If there is no other option SANEF believes that the labour law must be closely followed with transparency and commitment to negotiate fairly with organized labour.
SANEF believes that what is critical is that the SABC’s public mandate is no way compromised. SABC leadership needs to ensure that the Corporation’s news-gathering and content generation and management capacity is not cut. SANEF believes this capacity is essential for the SABC to play its key information, education and entertainment role. Further, we believe that the SABC’s content capacity is core to ensuring its turn around and long-term financial sustainability. SANEF calls on the Regulator, ICASA, to ensure that it monitors the SABC’s adherence to its Charter, licence conditions and local content regulations. The SABC’s ability to deliver on its mandate must not be compromised. Non-core support staff and administration units should be cut if anything is to be cut.
Finally, SANEF supports the SABC Board in its handling of the ANC Secretary General’s, Ace Magashule’s attempts to intervene as regards the SABC’s cost cutting plans. Magashule indicated that the ANC would “not allow” the Section 189 process to take place. SANEF agrees that this is an illegal intervention given the fact that the Broadcasting Act, 1999 clearly states that the Board “controls the affairs of the corporation”. SANEF believes that Magashule’s interference will only create confusion and make a difficult situation still more dire.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson
083 399 2852
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director
082 926 6404