Troubled SABC's massive latest survival plan includes axing a third of its staff, closing 5 regional bureaus and dissolving SABC Sport as part of latest turnaround plan - report.
18 July 2019
The embattled and financially gutted South African public broadcaster's latest dramatic survival plan includes getting rid of a third of its total workforce including axing thousands of workers, closing down 5 of its regional SABC offices, shutting down the SABC Sport division and reducing management by 37% in order to try and save it.
Last week during the SABC's appearance in parliament before the portfolio committee on communications, the details of the SABC's turnaround plan was not shared with the South African public with SABC executives that said that the details were "commercially sensitive".
With South Africa's national elections over which saw the SABC's retrenchment plan put on ice due to political pressure, the SABC that is on the verge of financial collapse is once again looking at a dramatic cut of personnel costs as part of its latest turnaround, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday in a front-page story.
Although the SABC plans to decrease 30% of its personnel, it's actually less and the percentage trimmed in order to try and get the support of the department of communications and from treasury.
The SABC wants to get rid of 19 general manager positions, and wants to reduce management by 37%.
Other proposals in the turnaround plan include axing a quarter of all SABC News staff, getting rid of 233 staffers of the current 936 - something that will save R62.23 million on the SABC's wage bill.
Of the SABC's 300 independent news contractors, a third - 100 - will have to be cut. Another 101 will have to be let go from the sports division, with 86 let go from the media and technology unit. This will save the SABC a further R77.5 million per year.
The SABC wants to shutter 5 of its regional offices in Montague Gardens, Cape Town, Tshwane, Ulundi, Kimberley and George that will save R25.5 million a year.
Closing down regional offices was also part of the SABC's earlier turnaround plan in 2018.
The Sunday Times said the plan will take effect in August, when SABC group executives will present their plans on how they will reduce employee costs by 30% as part of massive job cuts to slash the SABC's bloated operational expenditure.
"Phase 1" of the SABC's turnaround strategy includes "a report to the shareholder on pending retrenchments". The "shareholder" is the South African government.
The SABC had no comment when asked for a response by The Sunday Times.
The SABC was asked for comment late on Saturday night by TVwithThinus and will be added here when or if received.
UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 09:30:
The SABC in a statement on Sunday morning said that it "refutes the claims made in the story".
"The SABC would like to put on record that it does not have any new plans to retrench staff, and the journalist only enquired about the 11 pre-conditions in relation to the SABC’s application for funding to National Treasury."
"There was no discussion around the issue of retrenchments. In addition, it must be reiterated that on 31 January 2019, the corporation announced that it had aborted the process of Section 189 of the LRA and would not renew the notice to invoke Section 189."
"This followed constructive and extensive engagements with various stakeholders, including the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications, organised labour and our own employees."
"Currently there is a skills audit underway, under the auspices of the department of communications and following this process, the results of the skills audit in relation to staff optimisation will be fully engaged with all stakeholders, including organised labour and employees of the SABC."
"The SABC requests that the process of the funding application be allowed to be finalized, in order not to create panic and uncertainty amongst SABC employees and the public at large."
UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 11:15:
Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson, told SABC News (DStv 404) on Sunday morning in an interview said that "we have been assured by SABC that there are no new plans to get rid of SABC staff".
"We did enquire this week to ask about that 11-point plan, we were told by the SABC executive that they are not currently in possession of that plan. It seems this morning that they now have that plan but it seems to be confidential."
"So we will engage the SABC one more time and ask them to please provide that so that we can make sure that that is not part of that particular plan."
Hannes du Buisson said that "if the SABC has any plans to close down any offices, we need to see those plans because it would have an impact on staff, and of course the communities who should and will complain".
"The SABC's core business is news and information - and that is in fact where they should get more people, not be cutting down on people there."
UPDATE Sunday 14 July 2019 - 13:00:
Aubrey Tshabalala of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on eNCA (DStv 403) on Sunday morning said that "the personnel that is at the SABC is needed in our view. Why do you have a massive number of freelancers at the SABC that work excessive time? It shows that we need those people."
He said that the SABC "can be one of the great employers, instead of the retrenchers".