SABC workers have our support – SACP

Party says strike was forced upon workers by governance decay and administrative disarray

SACP pledges solidarity with striking SABC workers

15 December 2017

The South African Communist Party pledges solidarity with striking SABC workers. The workers were forced to strike for improvements in their working conditions and wage increases. The SABC has, for a while, been pushed into a financial crisis. During the period, one unqualified Hlaudi Motsoeneng was appointed illegally as the chief operations officer and illegitimately took virtual control of the SABC with the support of the powers that be. Motsoeneng was showered with exorbitant executive pay increases and bonuses, while conveying our national heritage to a private monopoly, MultiChoice, a subsidiary of Naspers, the mouthpiece of the Broederbond, the ideological vanguard of apartheid.

SABC archives were handed over to MultiChoice in a collusive “agreement” for “digitisation”, but along with strategic programming control hollowing out the SABC of its public broadcasting independence. The collusion included a deal to oppose encryption in analogue to digital broadcast migration policy. In contrast, MultiChoice protected encryption on its part. The “agreement” was engineered to protect the Naspers’ MultiChoice monopoly dominance.

Members of the public were systematically forced to buy MultiChoice set-top-boxes in order to access important SABC programmes centred on the archives. MultiChoice prevents subscribers who do not pay to access free-to-air broadcasting channels, such as SABC 1, SABC 2 and SABC 3. Meanwhile, MultiChoice pays absolutely nothing for SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3, but they account for about a third of its DStv audience. A back-of-the-envelope calculation thus makes the three SABC channels worth between R3- and R6-billion a year to Multichoice.

Private interest actions hollowing out the SABC of its capacity and in many respect amounting to looting contributed to both governance decay and administrative disarray at the public broadcaster. The result was a financial crisis. The SABC was plunged into bankruptcy, adversely affecting the needs of the downtrodden workers while the elite and looters went to the bank all the way smiling.  

The SACP is calling on the striking SABC workers to deepen their unity. The strike was forced upon the workers by governance decay and administrative disarray. The bargaining demands must be won. There must be an acceptable collective bargaining agreement at the end of the strike. The workers and organised labour as a whole at the SABC, and the Communications Workers Union has crucial role to play in this, as in the unfolding strike action.  They should deepen their programmatic unity to root out the legacy of governance decay and mismanagement at the SABC.

Dealings such as the MultiChoice-SABC collusive agreement, from which the SABC gets nothing if not a pittance, must be cancelled. Everybody who was involved in forcing down the SABC must be held to account. The analogue to digital broadcasting migration policy must be realigned with the ANC and Alliance resolutions on encryption and actively protect and promote free-to-air broadcasting.  The financial capacity of the SABC must be repositioned in the right direction. This will require tenderisation of the SABC, which is, by and large, used to loot, to be rolled back. These and other minimum programme objectives require maximum worker unity, including behind the ongoing strike action.

The SACP denounces acts of intransigence at the SABC, including threats to striking workers. The right to strike is enshrined in our Constitution. Threats not to renew workers contracts as a result of their participation in the strike are intolerable and must be dealt with decisively.

Issued by Mhlekwa Nxumalo, Acting National Spokesperson, SACP, 15 December 2017