The SABC has told parliament that the recent retrenchments will not have any impact on the broadcaster’s election coverage.
Both the Group Chief Executive Officer Madoda Mxakwe and Group Executive for News Phathiswa Magopeni have assured members of the Communications Portfolio Committee that the organisation has adequate resources to cover the elections.
In his opening remarks, Mxakwe told parliament that the SABC took its mandate seriously and they would not be found wanting come the 27th of October 2021.
“We are enjoined by the law to ensure that we provide fair, transparent and equitable coverage. At the heart of that is the alignment with our public mandate of informing educating South Africans. The biggest issue is the issue of budget. We are going to have to dip into our commercial coffers to fund the elections. We do not foresee any issue because from a resourcing point we are ready both financial and human resources.”
Magopeni says they have an allocated budget that is equivalent to what was allocated in 2019.
“Bearing in mind that of the R29 million that we were allocated, from our own annual budget that was ring-fenced for elections, we only spent half of that amount. But we were still able to do what was required of us. And what we learnt as an exercise from that is that no amount of money is going to correct defective planning.”
Parliamentarians have raised concerns about the recent retrenchments and subsequent staff morale at the SABC. They say these factors could impact negatively the organisation’s readiness to cover the municipal elections.
Magopeni says, “Even with the difficulty of the retrenchment process, the remaining staff was able to carry on with the work. A Section 189 process is an extremely difficult thing to go through, and an emotive process to go through. So, there’s no doubt that it would have affected the morale in the newsroom. But there’s also one thing that we are not ignoring, that this is one newsroom that has shown resilience at different times when it went through difficulties. And it’s been the same even with this Section 189 process.”
SABC says it’s ready for coverage of local government elections: