“Do not adjust your set. We have a problem. Please be patient!” - Save Our SABC!
20 June 2019
The Right2Know Campaign calls for an urgent intervention to prevent an SABC blackout. We recognise the critical importance of the public broadcaster as the main source of information for the vast majority of South Africans who are mostly poor and marginalized. As such, the R2K is deeply concerned by the imminent possibility of an SABC blackout as a result of low cash flow and indebtedness.
This is especially so, given that the SABC finds itself in this unacceptable financial position after decades of underfunding and recent years of mismanagement and corruption as a result of maladministration and state capture under the combined leadership of dismissed COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the former Board and former Minister of Communication, Faith Muthambi.
While we acknowledge the attempts to turn around these financial woes, it is clear that not enough has been done. It should go without saying that, the current SABC is charged with a mandate to draw up and implement a sound turnaround strategy to resolve this long-standing problem. This cannot be done with a commitment from the Treasury to commit increased public funding. We urge all parties concerned to do so as a matter of urgency. We call for a turnaround strategy that addresses the systemic and long-standing problems including bloated top management and duplication of roles.
If the screens go dark at the SABC, it will be a violation of the ordinary citizen’s fundamental "right to communicate", since this will lead to the inevitable deprivation of the people's right to access information.
R2K is encouraged by the commitment shown by the Minister of Communication, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to find an urgent solution to the immediate problem, including sourcing a bail-out from Treasury. However, we urge all parties to find a lasting solution out of the financial quagmire that does NOT include yet another call by an SOE for bail-outs from an already depleted public fiscus.
We call on the Ministry, the current SABC Board and the other role-players to take the public into their confidence in constructing a turn-around strategy and a rescue package that ensures that all interests are taken into account. Civil society too stands ready to assist Our SABC.
Issued by Busi Mtabane, Communicator, R2K, 20 June 2019