The SABC is going through political stress to droop its deliberate retrenchments of about 600 workers, regardless of the general public broadcaster going through a bleak future with R1.2-billion projected loss for the 2020-21 monetary yr. The general public broadcaster was this week anticipated to transient the portfolio committee on communications about its turnaround plan, employees optimisation, editorial coverage and expertise audit.
However that presentation didn’t see the sunshine of day on Tuesday or Wednesday, because the board and the executives weren’t given a possibility to go forward with it by the ANC benches.
“The SABC board and administration have been scheduled to look earlier than the parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday … On this assembly, the committee resolved that the SABC will come at a later stage to current. We’re awaiting additional communication on this matter,” stated appearing SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo.
Portfolio committee chairperson Boyce Maneli advised the Mail & Guardian that there was a unanimous choice this week that SABC’s choice to retrench was untimely and that extra consultations ought to happen.
“On this assembly, it turned clear to the committee, throughout opening remarks by the deputy minister, that the SABC [had not done] what was anticipated of it, and was not in possession of all of the solutions that have been required,” Maneli stated. “The committee resolved that SABC administration ought to return and maintain correct consultations earlier than presenting on the subject material. Most significantly, the SABC might be invited to answer all the problems that have been raised by the deputy minister, CWU [ Communication Workers Union], Bemawu [Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union] and the editorial discussion board.”
Maneli stated the committee resolved that the general public broadcaster ought to: “conduct [an] open and clear expertise audit, in addition to reskill and upskill its workforce … Moreover, the ANC’s place, which is per that of presidency, is that of saving current jobs in all sectors of the financial system and creating extra new jobs in keeping with the Nationwide Improvement Plan.”
This follows an alleged verbal instruction on July 17 by Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana to SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, that the general public broadcaster ought to droop its part 189 course of and rescind the board’s decision on the implementation of its goal working mannequin and the R700-million discount in worker compensation and headcount.
“We have been stopped from presenting this week. It is a political subject and it is a repeat of what occurred in 2018. Keep in mind, the SABC was instructed by [Minister of Communications] Stella [Ndabeni-Abrahams] to cease the method, then final week the identical factor occurred however that got here via the deputy,” stated one SABC insider.
The M&G understands that the SABC board has written to Kekana, requesting that her directions must be written all the way down to adjust to the regulation, and to permit the board to deliberate on them.
The courtroom had beforehand discovered that the board has unique powers to manage the affairs of the SABC and that the shareholder (the minister of communications) was precluded from exercising any powers to instruct or management the general public broadcasters’ administrators in how they run the company.
Kekana, via her spokesperson, Zandile Ngubeni, denied instructing the SABC to cease the retrenchment course of. “The DM [deputy Mminister] can’t instruct the SABC, so it was not an instruction … As she represents authorities as a shareholder, she acknowledged on document that, primarily based on the unions not having been consulted, and the skills-audit course of not being a clear course of, she doesn’t help the retrenchment course of, Kekana stated.
“From her [the deputy minister’s] perspective, that is what she thinks must occur till all compliance and governance of part 189 are met, together with however not restricted to the session with the unions, a expertise audit that’s clear, et cetera. Additionally, there appears to be manipulation of sure processes, so there must be transparency always by the SABC in [its] method to the processes,” stated Kekana.
The M&G understands that the board has advised Kekana that it might’t run a parallel course of to that of the Fee for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Final week the SABC and the unions met the CCMA concerning the public broadcaster’s part 189 course of. The M&G reported final week that battle strains had been drawn between the SABC and the unions, which vowed to picket over the retrenchment course of.
The unions threatened to method the labour courtroom for an interdict if the CCMA course of continued with out their issues concerning the expertise audit, session and alleged unilateral restructuring being addressed.
The SABC, nonetheless, has rubbished claims by the unions that there have been no consultations, that the talents audit course of was not clear.
The general public broadcaster has had severe money circulate and income challenges for a number of years, and has relied on authorities bailouts. Final yr, the federal government prolonged a bailout of R2.1-billion, as a part of a R3.2-billion complete bailout.
The SABC advised the M&G final week that it has to chop prices due to its dire monetary scenario, with its wage invoice accounting for greater than 45% of its expenditure. In its ready displays, seen by the M&G, the SABC has additionally revealed that it spends solely 21% on content material.
As a benchmarking train, it confirmed that eMedia Holdings, which has greater than 20 channels and fewer than 1 000 workers, spent 11% on employees prices. MultiChoice, with greater than 30 channels, spends 15% on workers and 43% on content material, though its mannequin is constructed on promoting income.
“Take a look at the BBC: they get about R80 billion a yr from the federal government through TV licenses after which the SABC is predicted to hold out its public mandate, however it isn’t supported,” an SABC insider stated. “[The] causes for any firm to retrench is financial and structural — [a] expertise audit has by no means been a part of that. We’ve been consulting with all of the stakeholders.”
It was reported by Metropolis Press that the SABC was advised by the ANC throughout a gathering on the get together’s headquarters to cease with the retrenchment course of.