Recently the SABC announced it will cut as many as 2 000 jobs. In a country with an unemployment rate of 27.5%, this is an especially tragic turn of events. Worse, most of the people who will be retrenched have done nothing to deserve this. These are mothers and fathers who work hard to provide for their families, and they are the ones who will ultimately suffer. Instead, those in charge of the years of corruption and looting at the SABC will walk away scot-free.

Like a multi-layered cake the SABC has had many years of bad management, financial irregularities and exuberant salaries for incompetent people. But unlike a delicious birthday cake, this one leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It would be easy to blame the state of the financially-crippled SABC on a few rotten apples in the organisation, but the reality is the ANC and its cronies are to be blamed for the collapse of the state broadcaster. It is hypocritical that the ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said that the party will not “allow any retrenchments”. He is the very reason why SABC staff face retrenchment!

R3.1 billion, or 42%, of the SABCs budget is spent on employees and one doesn’t need to be an economist to understand why the entity is technically insolvent. Current Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, revealed in Parliament that the salaries of the CEO, COO and CFO are R5.1 million, R4 million and R3 million respectively. The total remuneration for executive packages thus stands at R12.1 million. Furthermore, R60 million was spent on irregular appointments and promotions done without proper processes during the Hlaudi Motsoeneng era. This one-man wrecking ball was just the tip of the iceberg.

Former ministers of communications Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Dina Pule and Faith Muthambi along with former president Jacob Zuma and then Free State ANC chairperson, Ace Magashule, all played a role in appointing him and other cronies into senior positions at the SABC, and on its board. Who can forget the destruction caused by Ellen Tshabalala (chairperson from 2013 to 2015), Ben Ngubane (January 2010 to March 2013) and Mbulaheni Maguvhe (2015-2017)?

Even after former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s explosive 2014 report in which she exposed systemic corporate governance failures under Motsoeneng’s watch, he was still rewarded with a top job. In 2016 he went further and awarded himself a bonus of R11 million, whilst the SABCs current debt amounts to R1.3 billion. In August this year, the board told Parliament’s communications committee that it owed creditors R694 million and had only R26 million in the bank at the end of the month.

It’s now public knowledge that the SABC lost its independence during the Zuma presidency and the problems of the entity can be traced back to the failing ANC. The state broadcaster is supposed to be independent, but years of systemic corruption caused by the ruling party made the two inseparable. The proposed retrenchments can’t be ascribed to a tough economic climate, but to of the bulging coffers of the ANC cronies. Now ordinary workers will pay the price; people who were not part of the destruction of the SABC.

It’s a sad day when the people who’s responsible for a problem has the audacity to speak out on the problem. The ANC has no right to dictate to the SABC. It’s precisely because they have dictated to the SABC for many years that we are in this mess.

 

Phumzile van Damme is the DA’s Shadow Minister on Communications and the Team1SA Spokesperson on Corruption.

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