SABC on track for bailout

The SABC is confident it will receive the R1,4-billion lifeline it has requested from the treasury.

“The government is supporting us and we will get the guarantee,” interim board chairperson Irene Charnley told the Mail & Guardian this week. “We will make an announcement as soon as we get it because it is an important public matter.”

At the same time, SABC unions have expressed concerns about possible job cuts after Charnley told Parliament this month that the corporation’s losses stood at R910-million.

The short-term bailout from the treasury is critical to the SABC’s recovery plan because it will enable the cash-starved broadcaster to borrow money. “All we are trying to do as an interim board is to make sure that we stabilise things at the SABC, so that it is capable of delivering on its mandate,” said Charnley.

The communications ministry referred the M&G‘s queries to the treasury, which declined to comment, as did SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

Charnley told Parliament’s communications portfolio committee earlier this month that the SABC board had asked for an extension on submitting its annual report because the R1,4-billion bailout had not been finalised.

This week the committee’s chairperson, Ismail Vadi, said the SABC had been granted the extension. But “if the SABC does not present its annual report by the end of November, we will have to call them to account for their failure to do so”, he told the M&G.

Hannes du Buisson, president of the Broadcast, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu), said the union was concerned that an SABC instruction a few months ago that staff should take their accumulated leave, with the threat that they would otherwise forfeit it, had been regarded as a sign that job losses could be coming. “If they … embark on retrenchments, they don’t have to pay people out their leave,” he said.

Du Buisson said Bemawu had threatened the SABC with legal action over the “unlawful instruction” and it had been reversed.

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Glynnis Underhill
Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country.

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