Faizel Patel – 19/11/2020
Media Monitoring Africa says while retrenchments at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will go ahead, there are other options available for the public broadcaster to cut costs.
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, together with the Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana, and other senior officials of the Department held an urgent meeting with the SABC board to discuss the current retrenchment process at the public broadcaster.
Despite indications that not all board members are on board with the retrenchment decision as planned, despite the apparent go-slow at the public broadcaster on Tuesday.
Speaking to Radio Islam, Media Monitoring Africa’s Thandi Smith says retrenchment is not the only solution available to the SABC to save money
“I don’t think you can say it’s the only way. But it is one of the ways that has been agreed on in order to cut the wage bill. This comes from recommendations and directives from parliamentary reports and treasury. So it’s not the only thing that the SABC has been mandated to do in order to cut costs, but it is one of the conditions.
Smith says journalists, presenters and the news teams who refused to go on air including the possibility of a strike is not the solution and does not bid well for the SABC.
“Fundamentally we are dealing with the public broadcaster and that is not the solution to managing these discussions. There are many legal recourses that can be explored and taken up in order to manage this process properly. This also isn’t to say that management is doing this the best way possible, management is caught between a rock and a hard place and neither party seems to be dealing with this very well.”
Smith says the situation at the SABC is a very emotional issue.
“The employees of the SABC has all our sympathy in this. It’s a very difficult process and especially at this time of the year. But we do see that time and time again, issues with the SABC becomes a politicized issue.”
At the same time, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has called on the SABC leadership to continue to fulfil its public mandate by ensuring that its budget cuts do not curtail a number of critical services including its African language and regional programming.
Sanef has urged the SABC to ringfence core news and current affairs posts and not compromise its core public mandate of news delivery.
Listen to the interview with Thandi Smith