Newly appointed communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been accused of political meddling at the SABC, as she threatens tough action against the group’s board if they do not halt retrenchments.
This is according to a report by the City Press, citing a letter sent to the broadcaster by the minister, and several sources who said the saga was entirely political, as the SABC is a key election tool for the ANC.
The SABC has moved to cut costs and rein in spending as it has run out of money. The group will be unable to pay any salaries by February or March 2019, the sources said.
One of the cost-cutting measures is a retrenchment process that targets permanent employees and freelancers, where almost 1,000 of the former and 1,200 of the latter will be let go.
In her letter, Ndabeni-Abrahams has reportedly called the move unacceptable, demanding that it be stopped, while threatening to escalate the matter to president Cyril Ramaphosa and Parliament and other regulatory authorities.
The minster reportedly wants time to negotiate a bailout from Treasury of about R3 billion.
A board source told the paper that the move is a political one, with the minister trying to dissolve the board – seen as impartial and independent for the first time after years of political deployees – ahead of the 2019 elections.