'Reign of terror' at SABC
Cape Town - The SABC's acting head of news, Phil Molefe, is apparently maintaining a "reign of terror" in the SABC corridors at Auckland Park, where TV news staff were allegedly forced to accept a permanent decrease of 60% of their rates for additional news-reading work.
At a "draconic meeting" on Tuesday afternoon, Molefe - who took over from the controversial Snuki Zikalala - forced SABC news staff to sign a new contract, even though the current contract for additional news-reading work is valid until the end of March 2010.
News readers who refuse to sign the new contract, were apparently threatened that they would be "kicked off the news-reading schedule".
According to informed sources, Molefe must cut R110m from the SABC's TV news budget, and the news-reading budget - which involves about 30 people - is currently being targeted. Some well-known and veteran TV news readers in several languages across all the SABC's TV channels are affected.
'Decay still at SABC'
They're all doing additional news reading as there aren't enough permanent TV news readers at the broadcaster.
Worried SABC staff members who were willing to speak to Die Burger on Wednesday, said "the decay in the SABC's news department is still there".
An informed source said: "My blood is boiling. I'm furious. I'm very, very angry - almost speechless - about the arrogant, egotistical manner in which people are treated here, and the things that are being done here."
Another one said the situation within the SABC's TV news department, under Molefe's iron fist, is unbearable, and that the broadcaster's news heads "behave unethically, unlawfully and arrogantly, while the reign of terror continues".
"In a meeting of longer than two hours, Molefe said no-one should dare to speak to the media about this, and that neither their pastor, their church nor Zuma was going to help them."
Phasing out overtime
Personnel and news readers are also sick and tired of the countless technical problems in the SABC's TV news bulletins.
The SABC, which was asked for comment on Tuesday immediately after the news meeting, responded on Wednesday, and confirmed the new contract requirement with the 60% payment reduction.
"The 60% reduction is related to additional payment paid to presenters for reading the news. We are in the process of phasing out additional work which is seen as overtime work," said SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.
When asked why the sudden decrease is so drastic, he said "it's about money. We need to cut".
When asked about why people were forced to sign the new contract immediately, he said: "If they don't agree, they don't have to do it.
"It was discussed with them. We must save. It is extra work, and if they don't want to, they don't have to do it."