The recent turn of events at the SABC does not only bode ill for the survival and health of the corporation, it also sends a warning that sorting out parastatals and generally cleaning up the mess, entitlement and corruption of the past decade will be more than a mammoth task.

And those who genuinely believe that the government is serious about turning over a new leaf — and may therefore be tempted to offer their services — should think again. Events at the SABC offer a cautionary tale.

Attempts to sort out the SABC predate Cyril Ramaphosa's promotion to the presidency — the first glint before the New Dawn. Fighting corruption was not yet all the rage. Jacob Zuma looked unassailable; the government and bodies such as the SA Revenue Service and other parastatals were still crawling with his sycophants when a parliamentary ad hoc committee began investigating the shenanigans at the SABC. With the loopy Hlaudi Motsoeneng calling the shots, the corporation looked and sounded like Animal Farm made real. Comedians had a field day. But for people working there, and the country as a whole, it was no laughing matter. The ad hoc committee heard, for instance, about the Gupta acolyte who turned up at the SABC armed with a piece of paper, with the intention to take over its news division; about the corporation's priceless archives sold to a private broadcaster for a song; and, almost as if to rub salt into a gaping wound, the multimillion-rand bonus received by Motsoeneng for ...

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