Why Hlaudi mostly to blame for SABC financial crisis

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng arrives at a media briefing, 19 April 2017 in Milpark, he was addressing outstanding matters in relation to policies including the 90 % local content at the SABC. Photo: Tracy Lee Stark

A wage bill of nearly half the SABC’s income, bad management and a skewed staff-to-manager ratio are among the key factors for the public broadcaster’s planned axing of 981 permanent employees.

Former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng appears to be mostly to blame for the public broadcaster’s financial crisis.

The SABC paid R22 million to defend him in court during his tenure.

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird said the cuts could not be averted, but “for the changes to be significant, they should be done in a transparent manner and be in the public interest”.

The SABC said the restructuring would save about R400 million annually. Retrenchment notices have been issued to all staff.

The SABC said it would also halve the number of freelancers it uses from 2 400 to 1 200. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was appointed as the facilitator of the consultation process.

Former SABC board member Krish Naidoo earlier this year testified to the CCMA that Motsoeneng’s unilateral implementation of 90% on-air local music content saw R300 million in advertising revenue lost.

  • Communication Workers Union general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said he was shocked by the retrenchment announcement.
  • “Weeks ago, we had a meeting with SABC management and they failed to present us with numbers of how many departments would be affected.
  • “We also wanted them to share with us their turnaround strategy, open the books so we can point to wasteful expenditure and unnecessary spending.
  • “Digital migration will need more workers, who have to be reskilled. We cannot see the rationale for cutting staff. And relying on licensing does not bring in enough revenue.”

Brian Sokutu / The Citizen