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SABC chair Bongumusa Makhathini. File picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA.
SABC chair Bongumusa Makhathini. File picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA.

The SABC has assured parliament it will not need another bailout.

The public broadcaster has disclosed that it had more than R1bn left from the previous bailout it received from the Treasury, parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard on Wednesday.   

Chair of the finance watchdog Mkhuleko Hlengwa put it to the SABC executives that their inability to improve the corporation's financial position had been problematic, and asked if they would require another bailout after having failed to make a profit. The broadcaster had also incurred wasteful and irregular expenditure.

“I can confirm that there is no possibility of the SABC coming back for a bailout. If we look at what we have been able to achieve in the areas we have highlighted, and we are getting very good support from shareholders’ representatives in getting some of these regulatory changes affected, I can assure you that there will be no need for another bailout,” SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini said.   

Hlengwa said in the event that the public broadcaster made a U-turn months down the line, the committee would not mince its words and would hold them accountable for not being able to steer the ship away from a bailout.

“The fiscus is already stretched. There has to be consequence management, because these bailouts are not a default position that says, ‘Well, if all fails, there is no problem, we will get a bailout’,” said Hlengwa.

Deputy communications and digital technologies minister Philly Mapulane said the ministry was impressed with the progress made in the entity.

“We are doing very well as the SABC in terms of achieving the targets of the turnaround plan. We are quite satisfied that the turnaround plan has been implemented, we are achieving the targets that we have set for ourselves, and we are left with one year of the turnaround plan.”

Mapulane, however, conceded that some problems persisted. 

“We have seen some decline in terms of the revenue for advertising, which remains a cause for concern but we think that the organisation is dealing with such matters. We hope that at the end of the turnaround plan, the organisation will be stabilised, we’ll see financial sustainability of the SABC.”

Earlier, committee members lambasted communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who is abroad, for failing to prioritise Scopa meetings.

“My concern is that both the minister and deputy minister prioritised other meetings [rather] than coming to Scopa. It really is unacceptable. The minister and deputy minister appear to be very happy simply to say, ‘We’ve got more important things to do, we are not coming’'” said DA MP Robert Lees.

“The deputy minister then agrees to stay for an hour. They must show that they take us seriously. It is completely unacceptable.”

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