Chew on this — SABC spent millions on catering, says DA

30 September 2020 - 12:52
DA communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said the spending on catering by the public broadcaster was frivolous.
DA communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said the spending on catering by the public broadcaster was frivolous.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

The DA has slammed the cash-strapped public broadcaster for spending R6m on catering in the past two years.

This comes after a reply to a parliamentary question by communications and digital technology minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. She said the SABC spent R3,106,635 in the 2018/19 financial year and R2,973,768 in the following financial year.

DA communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said while the R6m figure may seem small, it indicated a lack of firm austerity measures in the public broadcaster.

“As it stands, the SABC has projected a budget shortfall of R1.5bn due to a significant drop in advertising revenue as a result of the devastating economic affect of Covid-19.

“It is also faced with a R700m shortfall, separate from the R1.5bn. The SABC was required to make a R700m cut in staff costs as part of its turnaround strategy approved by the National Treasury. The retrenchments process has thus far been rather chaotic. Should retrenchments be halted, the R700m will have to come from the Treasury,” said Van Damme.

She labelled the spending on catering by the broadcaster as “frivolous”.

'Bizarre spending'

“It is bizarre that the SABC is spending millions on what is possibly snacks for meetings while faced with grave financial anxiety, not only from its top executives but also staff afraid of being retrenched.

“We would caution communications and digital technology minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams not to see this as an opportunity to interfere in the affairs of the SABC. The law is clear. The board has the final authority on matters related to the public broadcaster,” said Van Damme.

She said the DA will request that at the next meeting in parliament with the SABC board,  it must present a clear and detailed map of its austerity measures.

“Any spending on catering must cease immediately. Now more than ever, we need cool heads to prevail and for the SABC to adopt measures which are necessary for its financial recovery. We cannot allow thousands to lose their jobs while spending that could be put to better use elsewhere is misdirected,” she said.

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