SABC hits back at Magashule over comments about SABC retrenchments

Neo Momodu. (Netwerk24)
Neo Momodu. (Netwerk24)

The SABC has hit out at Ace Magashule after the ANC general secretary said they would not allow retrenchments at the parastatal, reminding him that the public broadcaster controls its own affairs.

In a statement, the SABC noted with concern the comments that Magashule made while delivering the Winnie Mandela memorial lecture in Polokwane on Friday

"We must support the workers of the SABC. The ANC, we committed ourselves publically... that we must not allow any retrenchments, even in our SOEs (State-owned enterprises)," said Magashule.

In a statement, the SABC said it believes it is necessary to confirm that the [SABC] Board has the exclusive power in terms of section 13(11) of the Broadcasting Act, 1999 to “control the affairs of the Corporation”.

"This includes how the SABC operates the business of the public broadcaster and conducts labour relations with its employees," said SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu.

"No person, organisation or entity is permitted to interfere with how the SABC Board exercises its power in terms of section 13(11) of the Broadcasting Act. Any interference would be in contravention of the law and a recent court judgement to this effect."

Momodu further noted that the SABC Board inherited an organisation in a financial crisis as a result of many years of failures in governance, maladministration and poor decision-making.

"The SABC currently has a R1.3bn debt and an annual salary bill of R3,1bn.  This is clearly not sustainable for an organisation that generates R7,2bn in revenue and had financial losses of over R622m in [the] past financial year."

"Being a responsible Board, we cannot sit by and not act. This would be irresponsible and reckless on our part."

News24 previously reported the financially-stricken broadcaster sent out an internal statement to employees informing them that it had met with the leadership of organised labour to inform them that it planned on undertaking retrenchment processes in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

However, Momodu said the word "retrenchment" was not even in the corporation's vocabulary.

READ: Retrenchment is not in our vocabulary - SABC after cost-cutting internal memo

"We have communicated to our staff of intentions to start engagements with unions in relation to the cost-cutting measures that we have been going through as the corporation," Momodu said.

According to the statement, which was issued by Group CEO Madoda Mxakwe, the public broadcaster said the decision to retrench formed part of cost cutting.

"The next step is for the SABC to engage in joint consensus seeking consultations with organised labour. We will keep all employees informed of developments relating to this process," the statement read.

But Momodu said: "We are not saying we [are] there yet. We are contemplating it."

"We have communicated to our staff of intentions to start engagements with unions in relation to the cost-cutting measures that we have been going through as the corporation."

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