Telecoms

Stop meddling at the SABC, comms minister told

Minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has cautioned government and minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to stop meddling with internal SABC affairs.

This after the newly-appointed minister recently engaged staff members on their concerns at the SABC Studios in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

At the meeting, Ndabeni-Abrahams encouraged staff members, who fear losing their jobs through retrenchments at the public broadcaster, to be involved in solving the challenges in the organisation.

Four members of the SABC board have since resigned from the public broadcaster. The board was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma in September 2017.

"OUTA is concerned with the resignations this week by SABC board members, some of whom have been pivotal in overturning reckless decisions made during the Hlaudi Motsoeneng years," says OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.

While OUTA sympathises with those who face retrenchment, decisions need to be made to turn around the public broadcaster's finances, the civic organisation says. "We suggest that cuts are made where there were irregular appointments and to management salaries."

Restore the public's confidence

OUTA says it hoped that the new minister would restore the public's confidence in the communications industry, however, she is apparently perpetuating the pattern of political meddling that was synonymous with the previous administration.

"It appears that the ANC wants control over the SABC ahead of next year's elections, which will further compromise the integrity of the SABC and deny the public access to unbiased information. We have seen this episode before and encourage the minister to rethink her stance to intervene in decisions aimed at improving the financial stability of the SABC," says Duvenage.

Meanwhile, the DA says the resignation of SABC board member is highly unfortunate.

It would have been desirable for all board members to stay on and work together to fix the dire financial crisis facing the SABC, which has now been exacerbated by the illegal interference of the new minister of communications, the opposition party says.

"We are aware of the interim board members' implication in the Special Investigative Unit investigation into the awarding of a security tender, which was found to have been awarded irregularly. There was financial misconduct in contravention of the PFMA and we await the final report anticipated to be released in March 2019."

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