Political parties vow to fight SABC over retrenchments

SABC television building
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Some political parties have vowed to fight the SABC in its bid to retrench staff. The SABC cited a bloated wage bill as a reason for retrenchments.

The public broadcaster made the announcement on Friday during a meeting with staff. Africa’s largest broadcaster is planning to shed some of its almost 4000 staffers.

The SABC currently has R1.3 billion debt and an annual salary bill of R3,1 billion.

In a statement the SABC said, “This is clearly not sustainable for an organisation that generates R7,2 billion in revenue and had financial losses of over R622 million in past financial year.”

The SABC wants to meet unions to discuss retrenchments and government is not stepping in right now.

Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana says: “Let’s allow the SABC and employees to internally deal with the problem and we will comment when we have clear indication – and allow the SABC to do what’s best to reach glory.”

But political parties have criticised the plan.

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule says: “We must support the workers of SABC. The ANC has taken a decision and I’m talking on behalf of the President that we must not allow any retrenchments even in our SOEs, same with SABC – we should not allow people to be retrenched.”

Congress of the People’s (COPE) Dennis Bloem says: “We will do everything in our power to stop those retrenchments. It is unacceptable that management is not looking at themselves but are looking at the foot soldiers. It is better for the management to cut their bloated structure and leave the workers alone.”

The SABC in a statement says the ANC’s statement had caused confusion among employees and stakeholders.

It says the SABC Board has exclusive power to control the affairs of the Corporation.

The SABC says no person, organisation or entity can interfere with how the Board exercises its power. The broadcaster says interference would therefore be illegal in terms of the Broadcasting Act.

It further said the Board would be reckless and irresponsible if it did not address its dire financial status. The media industry in the country meanwhile has been faced with retrenchments in the past few years.

It has affected both the print and broadcasting industries.

As the unions and the public broadcaster begin consultations there will be more clarity on the number of job losses and the process to decide who is retrenched.