Tuesday, June 18, 2019

SABC trade unions Bemawu and CWU demand answers and an urgent meeting with SABC board before the end of this week over whether staff will get paid at the end of June.

The two big trade unions representing thousands of SABC staffers are demanding answers and an urgent meeting with the SABC board before the end of this week after shocking revelations by the SABC board chairperson on Sunday and the chief financial officer on Monday that the broke SABC can't guarantee the payment of staff salaries in two weeks time at the end of June.

On Sunday, Bongumusa Makhathini, SABC chairperson, warned that the SABC is finally on the verge of collapse with a blackout that could happen any moment.

"I’m not sure how we are going to pay for salaries come end of June," Bongumusa Makhathini said in a report in The Sunday Times.

The SABC that is perilously close to no longer broadcasting hasn't paid for municipal services like electricity at the end of May, choosing to rather pay SABC staff salaries. The SABC now owes the City of Johannesburg more than R13.5 million.

The SABC that is drowning in debt owes the parastatal signal distributor Sentech R317 million and MultiChoice's sports content division SuperSport over R208 million. Beyond that the SABC also owes millions to other content providers like independent South African production companies.

Nothing has so far come of the SABC's plea for a massive R6.8 billion in another government bailout.

On Monday, Yolande van Biljon, the SABC's CFO, warned in an interview with SABC News (DStv 404) that the beleaguered South African public broadcaster's "Day Zero can happen tomorrow" and refused to confirm that SABC staffers will be paid at the end of June.

Yolande van Biljon said that the SABC owes R1.8 billion to hundreds of companies.

On Tuesday Bemawu led by Hannes du Buisson and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) led by Aubrey Tshabalala, in a joint letter demanded an urgent meeting with the SABC board to ensure that SABC staffers will be paid at the end of this month.

Both Bemawu and the CWU demand to know what is happening with the long-delayed government bailout that Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the current minister of communications, promised.

The SABC urgently needs a cash bailout of R3.2 billion to keep public broadcasting services going in South Africa, while Tito Mboweni, South Africa's minister of finance after his budget speech in February revealed that the SABC now needs a massive R6.8 billion in a government bailout.

In their letter they say that organised labour at the SABC are deeply concerned and unhappy about the way in which staffers are being treated by the SABC board.

Bemawu and the Communication Workers Union say they had to hear in the media that the SABC has reached "Day Zero" - when it can no longer pay anything or staff salaries and will therefore see its broadcasting services seize up - and that workers likely won't be paid by the end of June.