Relocation of SABC regional office to Gauteng a sneaky ploy – COSATU NWest

This is a way of retrenching workers without invoking Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act

COSATU NW angered by the relocation of the SABC regional office to Gauteng

5 April 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the North West has learned with dismay that the South African Broadcasting Cooperation has decided to relocate its North West Regional office in Mafikeng to Auckland Park in Gauteng.This is a move which was unnecessary and will have undesirable consequences for the province at an economic level and in the development of the Setswana language and culture.

COSATU feels that this is a way of retrenching workers without invoking Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. Some workers will struggle to relocate and then will find themselves with no jobs. We want to state the following undisputed facts which are there in the public domain.

1. The Mafikeng town where the regional office is located has minimal economic activities and mostly relies on the public service for the area to survive; so removing one service from that town might lead to the collapse of the town and making it a ghost town.

2.   Gauteng remains a net receiver of migrant and congesting services in that area will not assist in controlling migration from it, instead it will worsen the problem. This will create a burden in other services like health, education, transport, water and sanitation and etc.

3.    There is an unequal development amongst the provinces of the Republic with Gauteng being amongst the most developed provinces and the North West being amongst the most underdeveloped provinces.  Therefore, to continuously overcrowd services in Gauteng will not assist in closing the gap amongst the developed and underdeveloped province   

4. Not everyone currently employed by the Mafikeng office of the SABC will be able to relocate and therefore in one way or the other they will have to lose their jobs. And those who will be able to relocate; not all of them will be able to take their families along with them, and therefore this will break some families apart ,adding to the high rate of single parenting households and divorces.

5. Not everyone who is currently doing business with the  Mafikeng office will be able to do business with the Auckland park office ,and even if they wish to do so there will be additional costs in accessing the office as it will be far from them. This will then lead to the closure of some SMMEs in the province.

6. The Mafikeng office has been hosting Motsweding FM which has been mandated to lead in the broadcasting in Setswana. This has been seen as an initiative to develop the language and without being tribalist or regionalist the bulk of the Setswana speaking population is in the North West. Therefore relocating the office denies Batswana access to the broadcaster of their language.

7. The North West Province has been central in the incubation of performing artists and the SABC Mafikeng office has been a good ancillary to assist the young upcoming artists. We all know that arts and culture is one of the contributors to the province GDP, so taking away any function which assists in the production of this sector of the economy is tantamount to killing the economy of the town and the province.

It is, therefore, unreasonable and irrational to relocate the office from the province to Gauteng. We do not have anything against Gauteng but we believe that the congestion of service in that province continues to perpetuate the apartheid spatial development agenda and this is not good for the country and the region.

COSATU also believes that SABC should promote artists in the area of speciality rather than to use performing artists (actors) as radio presenters. This in itself has additional cost and also has a detriment to the language and the life of the radio industry, as most of the time they fail to properly pronounce the words as there is no rehearsal in life radio as compared to acting.

COSATU calls on the SABC to reconsider its move for the interest of the language; the provinces and the country at large

Issued by Job Dilso, Provincial Secretary, COSATU North West, 5 April 2019