Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SABC DAY ZERO: Literally crumbling and cracking, SABC now facing Day Zero collapse by March 2019 as it's unable to pay salaries; workers complaining about where the biscuits went.

Fast running out of its last available cash, the SABC is now facing its own "Day Zero": By February 2019 the broadcaster will no longer be able to pay full staff salaries and by March 2019 the SABC will completely collapse and not be able to pay any salaries while workers - facing mass retrenchment amidst drastic cost-cutting measures - are complaining about where the biscuits went that they've always enjoyed.

The SABC board and executives of the commercially insolvent South African public broadcaster appeared before parliament's portfolio committee on Tuesday, telling shocking tales of a dire SABC on the edge of a financial precipice that is literally crumbling away.

SABC restrooms have run out of hand towels that are no longer available, staffers have to appease angry suppliers over the phone and explain why they're not getting paid which wasn't part of their original job description, and a massive chunk of debris recently came falling down at the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters where the building has cracks where the SABC can no longer afford to do basic maintenance.

Chris Maroleng, SABC chief operating officer (COO), told parliament that at the SABC - that the Auditor-General (AG) in September declared a non-going concern - workers are complaining about where their biscuits went, "something they were used to".

Meanwhile the SABC is looking at getting rid of up to a third of its full-time workforce - 891 of its 3 376 workers and half of its freelancers - 1 200 of 2 400 by February 2019 - telling parliament that at the bloated broadcaster up to 4 people are being paid to do the same job.

The SABC told parliament that it urgently needs R3 billion as a government bailout just to continue to pay staff salaries.

"The reality is that without the money being injected into SABC, we are in a dire situation and this SABC will collapse. Come March 2019, it will collapse," Bongumusa Makhathini told parliament.

'March 2019 is our Day Zero.'
In trying to cut back the SABC that has been struggling to pay producers for content, has agreed to paid them less, shifting a massive burden to South Africa's TV production industry now bearing the brunt of the SABC's financial woes.

Mathatha Tsedu, SABC board member told parliament "We have negotiated terms with content suppliers; people who provide the SABC with content like Muvhango, Generations, Uzalo and who produce the content at own expense. They give it to us, we can't even pay them."

"We have negotiated terms, we owe them R20 million a month, but we pay them R5 million. So every month, the accumulation of the debts just keeps increasing. But these producers are using their own money to finance the SABC's operation."

We've negotiated terms with Sentech. Sentech takes us into broadcasting. We provide 60% of Sentech's income. We can't pay them. And when we can't pay them it puts the entire broadcasting industry in jeopardy."

"The same applies to Samro whose music we play on our radio stations, and SuperSport who gives us the PSL games. All those people are not being paid the monies owed to them. We're renegotiating sport rights - all the fiasco around Bafana and SAFA revolves around the fact that we can't pay what SAFA wants us to pay."

"Some days you go into the SABC toilets and there are no hand towels because the cost-cutting have gone that deep."

"We haven't maintained our buildings for a very long time. Last week a huge chunk fell from the reception of the Radio Park building. The people responsible for the maintenance of our buildings have been warning that there are cracks there - something is going to happen. But we don't have the money. We're only dealing with what is broadcast critical," Mathatha Tsedu said.

"If there is a crack up there and it doesn't stop us from going on air, we will not fix it until that rock falls down. And one day, it is going to fall on someone."

Mathatha Tsedu said "now these invoices that we are not honouring are from companies that employ people but from our side we prioritise payment of our staff".

"Our staff every day have to deal with calls from these people who supply us with services, whose companies are going under because we can't pay."

"At every turn I have to say to say to them [SABC staff] 'I apologise', because when we hired them as accountants,it was not one of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that they were going to have with explaining to people why we can't pay. They were supposed to process payments but now we're putting them in a very bad situation."

"At the end of January 2019 we will get to a point where we will be able to pay salaries and a few other things. February 2019 we might not even be able to pay full salaries. March 2019 is our Day Zero."

Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO said "we've significantly cut programming and film cost which is our core business. It has not helped us, particularly in terms of attracting audiences".

Chris Maroleng said "investment in programming and film has been reduced by between 30% and 50% which is quite significant".

About cost-cutting at the SABC he said "It's as basic now as reducing the amount of milk, the amount of bottled water, the amount of basic commodities within the business."

"Some of our staff even complain that they don't get biscuits which was one of the things that they used to have," said Chris Maroleng.