Sunday, December 2, 2018

New communication minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at war with SABC board over firing of workers, demands an end to broadcaster's massive retrenchment plan.

South Africa's new minister of communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is reportedly at war with the latest SABC board over its massive retrenchment plan that will see up to a third of full-time SABC workers and half of all freelancers getting fired, according to the City Press newspaper.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is at loggerheads with the SABC board and earlier this week said it is the South African government's interest to make sure that nobody loses their jobs at the SABC.

"We pride ourselves in being a caring government. We have a responsibility to reduce unemployment. We have a responsibility to grow the economy," Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

2019 will be an election year in South Africa and joblessless remain a big issue in South Africa where millions of people remain unemployed.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is however supposed to look out for the best interest of the beleaguered South African public broadcaster on the brink of financial collapse, where the wage bill has spiraled out of control leaving no money to acquire new content or to pay producers and other service providers.

The SABC's top executives and the SABC board plan to fire up to 981 full-time staffers and 1 200 of the 2 400 freelancer workers as job cuts are crucial if the broadcaster is to survive and avoid utter collapse.

City Press on Sunday reported that the SABC board has refused to allow Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to "negotiate a bailout with Tito Mboweni, the minister of finance, before going ahead with the job cuts".

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams wants the R3 billion government bailout that the SABC applied for months ago and that will come from taxpayers who will once again guarantee a government-backed loan to the struggling broadcaster.

"She is trying to set the SABC board up to be dissolved and she is using the retrenchments to do it. It is political, it is about asserting control and, of course, it is also because of the elections," a source told City Press.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams reportedly wrote a scathing letter to the SABC board this week demanding an end to the broadcaster's retrenchment plan after an aggressive Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams had a heated meeting with the SABC board and executive management on Thursday.

The SABC in a statement says "The board is busy developing a comprehensive response to the issues raised" by Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams after her tense meeting.