Halting of SABC retrenchments welcomed after DA pressure
The DA welcomes the SABC’s decision to hold in abeyance its plan to retrench more than 2200 staff at the public broadcaster, and conduct a skills audit first.
The DA has, since the SABC’s announcement of its plan to retrench staff, called for not only a skills but also a salary audit. We stood vehemently against a Russian roulette styled retrenchment system. We hope in this process that the staff who may have lost their jobs without due cause, will now be protected. The DA is however deeply concerned that it appears that the public broadcaster will only be conducting a skills audit and not also a salary audit. It is a well-known fact that many of the SABC’s staff are grossly underpaid, a remaining legacy of Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s tenure.
We trust that while conducting the skills audit, the SABC will also re-assess salaries.
Additionally, it is crucial that the Portfolio Committee on Communications fill the eight vacancies on the SABC board, which has left the broadcaster's board inquorate. At a time when the SABC is facing a serious financial crisis, it requires a full board of the best minds, with experience not only in broadcasting but also in finance, to save the SABC from sinking.
The DA has written several times to the Chairperson of the committee, Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize, who has to-date not provided a timeline for when interviews will commence. The DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, raised the matter today at Parliament’s Programming Committee. He was informed that Prof. Mkhize will he contacted and that the process of filling vacancies will be expedited.
The DA will not let the matter rest. The SABC must have a permanent board even if it means a Special Sitting of the National Assembly is called to approve the names of candidates. The DA is committed to building an independent SABC, which can self-sustain, ensure staff morale and produce quality programming.
Statement issued by Phumzile Van Damme MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 31 January 2019