Cash-strapped SABC to receive momentary relief

The SABC will receive an interim financial relief from the government within the next 10 days and may gain further financial assistance in 45 days should it meet requirements set out by government.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams made the announcement in Parliament on Wednesday when she proposed her department’s budget vote speech.

The public broadcaster had set out its financial troubles before Parliament prior to the May 8 general elections and has been awaiting approval for a R3.2-billion loan that would ease its troubles.

The SABC has been scrambling to get a government guarantee that will allow it to take loans from commercial banks, but until now, government has not been happy with the broadcaster’s turnaround strategy.

“Government is actively looking at strengthening the South African Broadcasting Corporation. As we reported in the portfolio committee last week, we continue to engage with national treasury for a lasting financial solution for the public broadcaster. To this end, working with national treasury, we will within the next 10 days provide a portion of the interim relief and the remaining balance within the next 45 days,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

“However, this is subject to the SABC meeting all the said conditions and requirements. In this regard, we will work with the minister of finance towards an institutional mechanism to support the turnaround effort and this includes the appointment of the CRO [chief risk officer],” she added.

Nbabeni-Abrahams mentioned that the newly established Department of Communications under the sixth administration is aligning state-owned entities with its new mandate.

“Through the reconfiguration of some of our SOEs, we will establish a new infrastructure company that will be responsible for the rollout of infrastructure and connectivity. As part of the creation of this company, we will ensure that all State infrastructure initiatives are harmonised and coordinated,” the minister said.

While Ndabeni-Abrahams’ speech included much optimism about parastatals under the department of communications, opposition parties responded by saying that the government may be acting too late to save the SABC.

Members of the Democratic Alliance, the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Freedom Front Plus and the Inkhatha Freedom Party all warned against a “day zero” at the SABC, where the broadcaster could potentially shut down and not pay salaries. 

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Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

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