Quoting figures released by the head of HR at SABC, Jonathan Thekiso, the executive director of Media Monitoring Africa, William Bird, writes in an article for TheMediaOnline.co.za that the SABC isn’t just losing money, it is already unable to pay its monthly bills. “It is a formidable mess where the board and senior management are being attacked from all sides.”
Bird says people are right to be fearful and angry about what is happening at the SABC. “The news that it is technically insolvent should alarm all. That they are looking to retrench just short of 1,000 staff members and cut the contract workers’ number by about half is devastating for the institution. Retrenchment is awful and should be a last resort in a depressed economic environment such as ours.”
According to Bird the cost of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is still lurking in the institution’s corridors. “Motsoeneng’s enforcers are clearly still up to their games, ensuring that SAFM carried a story on Friday 2 November at 07:00 and 08:00, quoting Motsoeneng extensively. He assures listeners of his salary (less than R4-million a year), that he had saved jobs and there was a campaign to discredit him. We expect such Trumpian fantasies from Motsoeneng – the question is why did the SABC run the story, with so much air time given to Motsoeneng, where it went unchallenged?”
Bird says this is all the more bizarre when the Minister of Communications tweeted the salaries of the former executives: the Group CEO was paid R7.2-million, the COO R15.4-million (Yes that’s Mr Motsoeneng) and the CFO earned R4.1-million.
“Those who compiled the story also conveniently forgot the threats and editorial interference and the R30-million bonus Motsoeneng received, let alone his multi-million rand legal bills. It wasn’t just shoddy journalism, it was a shoddy attempt to shape discourse on the board’s decision to discuss retrenchments.”
Bird mentions that there are dark forcers working behind the scenes at the SABC. “Think this sounds far fetched? Remember the dark forces that threatened the lives of SABC employees: in one case, the harassment was so severe it led to the death of Suna Venter. Then there is the hit on head of SABC legal services Sizwe Vilakazi.”
To date no arrests have been made and the SAPS are silent, warns Bird. “So too, interestingly, are the ANC and those in government… hmm, they seem to care less about some people. Thanks to the work of some civil society organisations, SOS, MMA and FXI, we secured a critical court ruling that determined the independence of the SABC board and dealt a serious blow to ministerial interference.”