by Thinus Ferreira
In their "secretive" restructuring plan of the financially struggling South African public broadcaster the SABC's top executives have decided to do away and axe SABC News current affairs shows like Zwa Maramani in Tshivenda and Ngula ya Vutivi in Xitsonga on SABC2.
The culling of Zwa Maramani and Ngula ya Vutivi forms part of broad swathes of content, programming and staff getting axed and reorganised into a new structure at the embattled SABC that just made another R511 million loss for the 2019/2020 financial year and that is on track to make a massive R1.2 billion loss.
SABC staffers say the new structure of which they haven't properly been informed of, is undoable and unworkable with the number of people left, with SABC executives who want to retrench 400 workers.
At the SABC radio division, multiple radio stations have seen the majority of staff receive retrenchment letters, for instance leaving only 2 people at the Afrikaans radio station RSG not getting letters including the station manager Magdaleen Kruger and the secretary, 12 out of the 14 getting letters at Umhlobo Wenene FM in the Eastern Cape, and all but 4 people likely getting retrenched at Channel Africa that is the SABC's pan-African radio station.
The SABC is also axing as part of the 400 staffers the broadcaster's corps of TV channel publicists who communicate about its content with the jobs to be centralised under a marketing manager and at most 3 brand managers.
At a media briefing the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who are against the broadcaster's retrenchment plan, said that the SABC plans to completely scrap current affairs shows in indigenous languages like Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
"This means that the SABC now has officially abandoned its core mandate as a public broadcaster in the heart of their corporate plan," said Aubrey Tshabalala, CWU secretary-general.
"In the TV SABC News division Zwa Maramani, which is Tshivenda, and Ngula ya Vutivi which is Xitsonga have been done away with. The reasons are purely based on commercial reasons."
"This is the serious reversal of all the gains made during a political breakthrough in 1994. This move is not in the interest of building a nation that is living in harmony, united in diversity."
Meanwhile SABC News TV current affairs shows in English, Afrikaans and Nguni will remain.
"The SABC has current affairs show that will remain - Fokus in Afrikaans on SABC2 with the same stuff, Cutting Edge in Nguni on SABC1 with the same stuff and Special Assignment in English on SABC3. They have been kept on-air in the new structure."
"It is important to indicate that this structure was not presented to the commissioner at the CCMA during the SABC's section 189 retrenchment processes."
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