‘SABC’s not playing fair’

2013-07-28 14:00

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Four sports commentators say salaries are being cut by 70%.

Four SABC sports commentators are in a battle with their bosses who have decided to pay them less than a third of their salaries.

David Kekana, Andile Ncube, Lindani Mbense and Owen Ndlovu have allegedly refused to sign their new contracts after their bosses slashed their rates by 70%.

The commentators were earning in the region of R50?000 a month but now will receive only R15?000.

They analyse soccer matches and cover other sports events.

They are on air for about four hours, three or more days a week.

Although they have honoured their shifts and remained on air, they may not be paid this month because they don’t have valid contracts with the public broadcaster.

Another commentator, Kudjo Amankwa, said he signed his contract last week.

A commentator, who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity, said that only sports personalities Tshepo Mabona, Thomas Mlambo and Minnie Dlamini have valid contracts, which they signed with the SABC earlier this year.

The commentator said he and his colleagues were highly suspicious of the decision to massively reduce their fees, which may also be a desperate bid to cut costs for the cash-strapped corporation.

“Look, we had fixed-term contracts with the SABC, which expired at the end of June, and we were supposed to have negotiated the new ones prior to their expiry date.

But nobody said anything about that,” said the commentator.

They then approached Keletso Totlhanyo, the new SABC sports general manager, and asked her for an explanation, but she told them she knew nothing about the new contracts.

They called a meeting with acting SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng about three weeks ago, during which they protested about the dramatic reduction of their rates.

But Motsoeneng apparently said there was nothing he could do about it because he knew nothing about the new contracts.

“We were surprised that the general manager and Hlaudi didn’t know anything about that?.?.?.?What worries me is we have debit orders that must run at the end of the month and, by the look of things, we might not get paid this month because we have no contracts with these guys,” said the commentator.

After City Press sent a list of questions to the SABC about the matter last week, the commentators said bosses embarked on a witch-hunt to find out who had leaked the information.

A senior SABC official, who also asked not to be named, confirmed that the commentators held a meeting with Motsoeneng about their wages being reduced by 75%. But he said their behaviour was “unbecoming”.

“They can’t negotiate as a group because they did not join the SABC as a group. This is an individual matter, so each and every person must negotiate the terms and conditions of their contracts. Whoever did not sign a contract is not an employee of the SABC, period,” the official said.

Kekana confirmed that he did not sign his new contract, but said it had nothing to do with money.

“I can confirm I did not sign my contract because there are certain things which were in my previous contract that were not included in my present one,” he said.

Ncube declined to comment and referred us to his spokesperson, Simphiwe Majola, who said: “We’re aware of the contractual negotiations currently under way and are dealing with it accordingly. It’s an internal matter and therefore very little can be disclosed in public at this stage. As it stands, Andile is still happily part of the SABC family.”

Mbense and Ndlovu did not respond to requests for comment.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “We are not at liberty to discuss contractual relationships between the SABC and any of its suppliers, freelance staff or any or any other partners. This is unprofessional.”

Kganyago would also not comment on the commentators’ meeting with Motsoeneng.

“Meetings happen all the time with staff members to engage on all sorts of their issues,” he said.

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