Nyanda meets SABC Board

2009-06-01 19:09

Johannesburg - The SABC board and the Minister of Communications met on Monday to discuss the challenges facing the public broadcaster, the minister's spokesman said.

Tiyani Rikhotos, the spokesperson for minister Siphiwe Nyanda, said: “The board appraised the minister  on the recent challenges facing the SABC including the broadcaster's financial affairs, the current salary negotiations with unions, reported differences between board members, and the filling of key vacant positions.

"The minister raised his concerns about the negative public perception on the board and executive management's ability to give direction to the public broadcaster's operations," said Rikhotso.

The SABC is facing a R784 million deficit this year, its workers are threatening labour action, local producers of content say they have gone unpaid for their work, three of its board members have resigned since March, and the positions of the SABC CEO and Head of the News are still vacant.

The former head of the news Snuki Zikalala, left the SABC on May 1 after the board declined to renew his contract.

Former CEO Dali Mpofu was fired by the board on January 20 after an eight-month battle which began after Mpofu had attempted to suspend Zikalala, who had been accused of leaking confidential documents. Mpofu promised in January that he would fight his dismissal.

Resolve issues

A coalition of television workers have promised to demonstrate on Thursday against the SABC's "non-payment" for their work.

Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC) said in a statement: “The protest has been provoked by the public broadcaster's non-payment of millions of rand to independent producers and the subsequent retrenchments that are occurring throughout the industry”. 

The TVIEC claims to represent 80% of local content on the air. It estimates the SABC owes as much as R58m to local content producers.

Rikhotso said: "The SABC management also committed to soon meet with the independent producers with a view to resolve issues of non-payment taking into account the cash-flow challenges facing the public broadcaster”.

The Communication Workers Union Gauteng chairperson, Tommy Morudu, who represents some of the SABC employees, was quoted in the City Press on Sunday as saying: "We have been nursing the situation for quite some time now. We are workers with the SABC's interests at heart, but management is not coming to the party."

The SABC was offering its workers a staggered increase of 7% in June and 1.5% in July. Workers wanted 12.2% backdated to April 1.