Low staff morale, fear and anger at the SABC

A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)
A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

"I really do not understand why we are victims of bad leadership and a historically imbalanced structure of employment at the SABC."

These are the words of one of the employees at the financially ailing South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who told News24 that the company's decision to go ahead with retrenchments, was neither in the interests of the company nor its workers.

"They should do a qualification vet and rid those who only have Grade 12 but employed in key positions. We went to school to be here and it is unfair that we are expected to now bend over and let some managers, who have either none or an irrelevant qualification to what we have, probably remain," said the angry staffer.

READ: SABC board jumping the gun on retrenchments, has not followed due process - Mokonyane

The SABC recently announced that it plans to lay off almost a thousand of its permanent workers, and at least 1 200 freelancers.

That announcement however, was not welcomed by many, including affected unions and the Communications Ministry.

The broadcaster also said that by March 2019, it would not have enough money to pay salaries.

The wage bill amounts to almost half of the SABC's revenue, and not enough for operations and other costs are left after that expense has been levelled.

Another worker from one of the public broadcaster's regions also told News24 that he was scared and did not know how his life would turn out should he be retrenched.

"I have known nothing but the SABC for the past 12 years, and cannot even begin to think how I'll survive.. [It] won't be easy finding another radio show production job," he said.

Workers stressed and scared

Those who spoke to News24 on separate accounts, based at the SABC's headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, have said there is now low staff morale, and that most employees were stressed and not working at their optimum.

"We are looking for jobs, hoping for the best and [to be] employed elsewhere before Day Zero comes," one journalist said.

"I just bought a house and car a year ago, and now this?.. instead of being scared or anything, I am actually more angry that our managers' misfortunes and ill-informed decisions will now affect my family's financial well-being," said another.

The SABC's spokesperson Neo Momodu said that the broadcaster would not be commenting on the matter.

#SABC CWU's Aubrey Tshabalala questions why a parastatal seeks to retrench, while President Ramaphosa has recently committed to the creation of jobs and to sustaining those active. He has now threatened to shutdown the SABC if it does not withdraw its intention @TeamNews24

The SABC previously announced that it already identified those who would be laid off.

It is however, not clear who those are and in which departments they work.

The SABC tabled in Parliament that the "vigorous restructuring" and retrenchments would result in cost savings close to R440m and added that it was already conducting other cost-cutting measures.

READ: SABC's total irregular expenditure nears R5bn

While considering retrenchments, on the broadcaster's recent audited books, the Auditor-General found an irregular expenditure capping at R5bn, accompanied by fruitless and wasteful spending of R230m.

At a press briefing in October, Group CEO Madoda Maxakwe said that there was simply no manner in which a complete organisation-wide restructuring and reduction of positions could be avoided.

He said that the consultation processes with unions and other stakeholders would be finalised by the end of January 2019, which would then possibly pave the way for notices of termination of employment to be issued by February.

New Communications minister wants no retrenchments

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has now reportedly written a letter to the SABC board, demanding that the broadcaster instantly reconsider.

A board source, who reportedly attended a meeting with the minister, told the City Press, that Ndabeni-Abrahams had been "threatening and very aggressive, as was her deputy. It felt clear she was preparing for a constructive dismissal of the board".

READ: SABC threatened with shutdown over retrenchment notice

At the same  time, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) said that they were consulting with workers and contemplating a shutdown and a later strike to force the SABC to find alternative ways of cutting costs.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
As South Africa faces down the third Covid-19 wave, how are you keeping your family safe ?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Staying at home, isolating and being careful
3% - 1434 votes
Sanitising and wearing masks when we go out
14% - 5631 votes
Going on as usual, we're not afraid of the virus
83% - 33912 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo