The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is to receive interim financial relief from government within the next 10 days and a major cash injection in the next 45 days if it meets certain conditions.
Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams made the announcement in Parliament on Wednesday when presenting the budget votes for her department and various other entities.
The cash-strapped public broadcaster has been battling to get a government guarantee that will allow it to borrow money from the commercial banks.
Ndabeni-Abrahams says government will not approve a blanket interim relief.
“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. 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.”
But opposition parties warned the government’s response might be too little, too late.
Phumzile Van Damme (DA), Fana Mokoena (EFF), Zandile Majozi (IFP), Wouter Wessels (FF Plus), Nqaba Kwankwa (UDM) and Willie Madisha (COPE) – all blame the department of deliberately strangling the SABC financially and are accusing the minister of being incompetent.
All opposition parties further warned that the day-zero scenario, where the SABC can possibly switch off and fail to pay its employees salaries would be a national disaster.
They also slammed the department for failing to roll out the whole array of digital technology programmes, which they say may put the country at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution and unlock millions of jobs.