SABC board chair sticks to retrenchment and cost-cutting script

25 November 2018 - 00:00
The SABC is planning to retrench 981 permanent staff members.
Image: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times. The SABC is planning to retrench 981 permanent staff members.

SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini has vowed to push ahead with the cost-saving measures at the public broadcaster, including retrenchments, even if the move cost him his job.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Makhathini revealed that the board was under tremendous pressure from what he called “political and commercial interests”.

He said the pressure was exerted by those who were opposed to the board’s plan to turn around the struggling public broadcaster. He did not say which politicians were putting it under pressure, or how they were doing this.

“In life you must have things that you are prepared to stand [up] for. If it means being pushed out for standing up for what is right, it’s a better exit than me sitting here and trying to be liked and to be popular at the expense of the SABC.

“Whatever I’m doing with my board is not about me but about what’s best for the SABC.”

The SABC is fast running out of cash. Unless it gets a R3bn government guarantee, it will not be able to pay salaries or honour financial obligations by March.

Makhathini defended plans to retrench 981 permanent staff and not to renew the contracts of 1,200 freelancers. Former communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane had publicly slammed the board for the planned job cuts.

Makhathini said one of the reasons for the cash crisis at the public broadcaster was the arbitrary manner in which salary increases and promotions were made under the previous SABC board and executive team.

Read the full story in the Sunday Times.