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Motsoeneng’s ‘reckless mismanagement’ caused SABC’s problems – Sanef

The SABC's dire financial situation is due to the "reckless mismanagement" of the corporation, epitomised by former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said on Monday.

“This included his mismanagement of human resources.”

In a scathing statement, Sanef noted SABC’s announcement on Friday that it had “met with organised labour to inform them that they were contemplating implementing Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA)” – and thus retrenchments at the SABC.

On Thursday, 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.

“Sanef notes the dire financial situation the [SABC] finds itself in.

“The SABC had a net loss of R622m for the 2017/18 financial year. One of the biggest cost drivers was the salary bill. The SABC is a R7.2bn revenue generating company with a salary bill of R3.1bn.”

In the statement, Sanef said it noted the lack of oversight from Parliament and the regulator “during this dark period”.

“Going forward, it is critical that the capacity of these governance and oversight structures are strengthened.”

Sanef added that the cruelty of the situation was that workers were at the receiving end of leadership abuse and negligence.

‘SABC’s content capacity is core’

“Sanef believes that only if all other cost-cutting options have been explored, should the [SABC] contemplate retrenchments.

“If there is no other option, Sanef believes that the labour law must be closely followed with transparency and commitment to negotiate fairly with organised labour.”

Sanef said the SABC leadership needed to ensure that its news gathering, content generation and management capacity were not cut.

“Sanef believes this capacity is essential for the SABC to play its key information, education and entertainment role.

“Further, we believe that the SABC’s content capacity is core to ensuring its turnaround and long-term financial sustainability.”

Sanef called on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to ensure that it monitors the SABC’s adherence to its charter, licence conditions and local content regulations.

“The SABC’s ability to deliver on its mandate must not be compromised.

“Non-core support staff and administration units should be cut if anything is to be cut.”

On Friday, newly-appointed SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said the word “retrenchment” was not in the corporation’s vocabulary.

“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.

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