The looming retrenchments at the cash-strapped SABC have set communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane and the board of the public broadcaster on a collision course.
While the board maintains it has no choice but to lay off hundreds of workers in order to remain sustainable‚ Mokonyane is strongly opposed to the job cuts. In a scathing statement she hit out at the board for “ignoring the advice and support of the shareholder in this necessary and critical process of turning the SABC around”.
“This is inconsistent with the principles of good corporate governance‚ mutual interest and public good‚” she said.
The SABC‚ which recorded a net loss of R622m in the financial year ended March‚ spends more than R3bn a year on the salaries of more than 3‚000 employees. In 2017 it reported a net loss of more than R1bn. The new SABC board‚ chaired by Bongumusa Makhathini‚ has been on an aggressive drive to turn around the public broadcaster following years of decline under Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
The falling out is set to test the board’s independence. Late in 2017‚ the high court in Pretoria affirmed the independence of the SABC board‚ which had long been bedevilled by political interference‚ precipitating the collapse of previous boards.
In her statement‚ Mokonyane said retrenchments 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”.