Right2Know Campaign outraged after SABC goes ahead with retrenchments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Right2Know Campaign says it is outraged that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)  is pushing ahead with retrenchments. They warned of the impact it will have on indigenous language radio stations.

Right2Know’s Communication Rights Organiser, Michael Graaf, says the SABC is putting money ahead of its constitutional mandate.

“We are saying the turnaround plan itself is the problem. It flies directly in the face of what public broadcasting is about, which is not just to make money but to inform the public through their own languages. Cutting back on news in minority languages is discrimination and against the constitution. We have already spent money on digital broadcasting, it can do a lot more than broadcasting has ever done before. Instead of retrenching them, we should be re-training them.”

Right2Know’s Mark Weinberg reacts to the retrenchment process: 

SABC responds to R2K

On Thursday, the SABC issued a statement to clarify some of the misinformation contained in Right2Know Campaign’ statement titled ‘Stop the SABC Board’s attack on democracy’.

The SABC says it is committed to fulfilling its public service mandate, “and the preservation and promotion of indigenous languages, through its various radio and television platforms.”

It adds, “The SABC acknowledges that the retrenchment process was difficult for all stakeholders and emotionally-charged at times.”

Redundancy, surplus letters

The public broadcaster handed over redundancy and surplus letters to some of its employees on Monday and Tuesday. The SABC says it has reduced the number of employees who will be affected from 600 to just over 300.

It says it has to reduce the wage bill to make the organisation financially sustainable. It first handed over letters to employees in November 2020.   

The unions were against the process continuing and the Communications Worker’s Union ( CWU) went on a strike:

The process resumed on Monday after parties had agreed to halt it for a period of a month.

The public broadcaster said yesterday that it was confident that it would complete its internal recruitment process within two weeks.

The SABC has given itself 14 days to fill all vacant positions, saying it wants to complete the Section 189 process by February.

“At this stage, we are confident in terms of the process, a lot can change between now and then, for example, we have 170 vacancies and our planning is based around that, but hypothetically, say if 100 people opt for early retirement there is an additional 100 positions. So, it’s very difficult to say at this stage, but we are on track to meet the timelines,” said Chief Operating Officer, Ian Plaatjes.