The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

The ANC has supported the call by communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane that the financially ailing SABC reconsider its plan to retrench staff.

On Monday, the SABC announced that it would proceed with retrenchments in a bid to cut costs. It is looking at cutting 981 of its 3,376 permanent employees and 1,200 of its 2,400 freelancers.

CEO Madoda Mxakwe said on Wednesday that the SABC’s wage bill was R3.1bn, and its total expenditure R3.5bn, noting, ‘‘This is not sustainable.’’ 

The ANC said it did not believe Mokonyane was undermining the SABC board’s independence and authority by making the call.

‘‘The government, like any other stakeholder or actor in South African society, has a right to express an opinion,’’ spokesperson Pule Mabe said. ‘‘The government does not lose that right because they appoint a board.’’

He said expression of an opinion is not an instruction, but a request for the view to be noted and factored in, and that an opinion is not an attack on its independence.

‘‘We call on comrade Mokonyane, as a representative of the shareholder and the SABC board, as well as labour, to urgently enter into a dialogue to discuss ways and means to avoid retrenchments, especially during this difficult economic period in our country,’’ Mabe said.

‘‘The retrenchment plan will have adverse effects on the country’s objective of creating decent jobs and fighting unemployment.’’

The EFF has called the looming retrenchments ‘‘disgusting’’. It said the state of the SABC’s finances had to be put squarely in the hands of the ANC.

‘‘It is the ANC which imposed, sustained and guided [former COO] Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s [looting] of the SABC. It is also the ANC’s Treasury that is refusing to give SABC a guarantee letter so it can go and get help from commercial lenders,’’ the EFF said.

The party called on finance minister Tito Mboweni to urgently intervene, by giving the SABC a guarantee letter so it can find the funds and not retrench thousands of workers.