Mokonyane hits out at SABC board over job losses

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has hit out at the SABC board over possible retrenchments at the public broadcaster, saying it ignored the department's advice despite several meetings.

Mokonyane said while she was aware of the SABC's "precarious financial position" and the urgent need for it to contain costs, she was strongly opposed to retrenchments.

A statement issued by her department on Monday states that she was disappointed that the board had insisted on retrenchment as the foremost and only solution to a turnaround strategy at the SABC. The plan had been submitted to her by the board for concurrence.

"As the shareholder, it is our considered view that any retrenchment exercise must be a last resort and an integral part of a holistic, well formulated and broadly canvassed turn-around plan aimed at steering the SABC towards future financial sustainability," Mokonyane said in the statement.

She raised her concerns with what she regards as an "odd approach" by the SABC board, ignoring the advice and support of her department as shareholder in what she calls a "necessary and critical process of turning the SABC around".

In her view, this is inconsistent with the principles of good corporate governance, "mutual interest and public good".

She is concerned that the turnaround plan lacks details regarding how much the said retrenchments will save the SABC in the short, medium and long-term.

She is also concerned that the proposed plan to close certain offices and reduce staff does not demonstrate the service delivery impact analysis of such a restructuring.

In her view, the plan lacks proposed revenue enhancement initiatives, including an improvement plan for the collection of television licenses and the possible disposal of non-core and under-utilised immovable assets and properties.

"The SABC is a national asset and as a public broadcaster its well-being is not the exclusive domain of the board and its management, but that of all stakeholders with an interest in its sustainability," she said.

She is hopeful that the board and executive of the SABC will reconsider the matters raised and seek a harmonised way forward based on "mutual interest and respect for the benefit of the SABC and South Africa".

The cash-strapped public broadcaster on Thursday issued a statement indicating that it is undertaking cost-cutting measures which will affect employees. An internal memo was circulated among staff indicating that the SABC had met with unions to notify them of their intentions to undertake retrenchment processes in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

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