Letters to the editor: September 30 to October 6 2016

Something rotten at SAA

On September 20, senior officials from the financially embattled SAA informed Parliament that the airline registered a total loss of R5.6-billon for the financial year 2014-2015. This is indeed an embarrassment to all South Africans.

We are supposed to be some kind of role model for Southern Africa and the entire continent.

We are supposed to be leading by example and excelling in all matters related to good governance, internal controls, risk management and financial prudence.

There is something rotten at SAA, and I think we, as taxpayers, are being given a half-truth about the situation.

I do not believe for a second that all employees and senior management at SAA are really so bad that they would have deliberately allowed one of the most strategic state-owned enterprises to be R5.6-billon in the red.

As a taxpayer, I do not think it is right for the treasury to continue to pump more money into SAA when there is no proof that the current acting chief executive officer, senior management and the new board have the capacity to rescue it from the financial dustbin.

South Africa urgently needs money to fund service delivery programmes, free quality education for all and to create meaningful employment for all our people – not just “job opportunities”.

We cannot continue to pump money into an entity that is failing. If there are any serious austerity measures that should be enforced in this country, they should be applied to SAA.

This also means all the free rides that MPs and MPLs have been enjoying for years must come to an end – all politicians and their dependents must pay for their own flight costs.

In addition, such austerity measures must apply across the board in South Africa.

The politicians, the ruling elite and the rich must feel the effects of these austerity measures more than the poor majority.

The state must ensure that it collects as much as possible from the elite and the rich. Political parties must fund all private and party-related activities undertaken.

The state must only take financial responsibility for state-related activities, and austerity measures must be enforced to limit unnecessary state activities and expenditure. – Lesego Sechaba Mogotsi, Azapo member, Tshwane

Film industry sharks are the top feeders

The programme submission process of the SABC favours well-established, well-resourced production houses. The process is tedious and leaves young filmmakers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds vulnerable.

Emerging filmmakers are left with no option but to approach established production companies. This leads to exploitation by the industry sharks who do not want to see young people taking ownership of their work. This is the reason big production companies are dominating our airwaves.

We welcome the focus on local content, but it would be sad if this means prosperity only for the production companies owned by the rich and famous. Entry is still blocked to many young talented South Africans who want to get into this industry.

The rich and famous run out of creativity because they party more. Their only source of content is the hungry, aspiring, marginalised, talented youth, who will do anything to get a foot in the industry.

We hear of stories of David and Goliath: every time a young person gives their material to the well-established companies, hoping they will rope them in, what happens is that Goliath comes out on top because he has resources to back him up.

The SABC content hub needs to prioritise and protect emerging filmmakers. We are not scared of these Goliaths and, in terms of content, we can take them on. We just don’t have the resources they have.

Many shows by the experienced production companies are weak and rushed. I do not suggest there are no good shows – there are still hard-working, experienced filmmakers who inspire us. Some of these filmmakers have also suffered to get where they are, so it would be great if they could open doors for the generation coming after them.

We call on the public broadcaster to level the playing field. We are new and want to tell our stories. No one can tell our stories better than we can. Please protect us from the industry sharks. All the funding models suit them, not us. All we have is our great content. – Lebogang Mashishi, director, Fat Brain Ideas

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