Editorial: SABC bailout should signal positive change

For years, the SABC has been allowed to collapse and disintegrate while those put in positions of power used it to line their pockets and please the politicians who facilitated their ascent.

The results have been catastrophic, leaving the SABC barely able to honour its mandate as the country’s public broadcaster.

Editorial interference was the order of the day, and victimisation of those who spoke truth to power was so common that everyone watched what they said and to whom.

Crippling decisions – like the thoughtless 90% local music and content on TV and radio stations – were made without consideration of the future impact.

At the height of the crisis, things were so bad that the broadcaster could not pay staff, content producers, municipalities and even signal distribution company Sentech.

Ceilings leaked, paint peeled, lifts broke and equipment fell apart. Many talented people left. Those who stuck it out worked under demoralising conditions.

What South Africa was left with was a shell of a once proud institution.

On Friday, government announced that R2.1 billion – of a R3.2 billion bailout – would be injected into the broadcaster’s coffers.

This money is meant to steer the SABC towards the very long path to recovery.

It will not be easy as the broadcaster still employs people who were rewarded with undeserved promotions for bowing to Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his enforcers.

As the cash lands in the SABC’s bank tomorrow, it will be expected that the money is used for what National Treasury was told it would be used for.

Any attempt to interfere with the preconditions of the bailout should be fought off with every weapon the executives have at their disposal.

South Africa cannot afford to continue to bail out state-owned enterprises that easily allow themselves to be plundered to please politicians.

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July 2020

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