SABC to get a bailout

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has announced that National Treasury has agreed to provide the SABC with interim financial relief to prevent the broadcaster from collapsing by the end of the month.

While the quantity of the bailout is still to be decided, Ndabeni-Abrahams made it clear that it would not be the R6.8 billion that the SABC said that it needed to keep afloat.

The SABC has been struggling financially, and was declared technically insolvent at the end of January 2019. SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe warned that the public broadcaster likely to go broke by the end of March if no aid was given.

According to the minister, for the SABC to qualify for a full bailout, it first needs to implement a turnaround plan. The interim funding will cover urgent payments and salaries, she said.

While the broadcaster has been trying to implement a turnaround strategy, which included plans to retrench staff in a bid to cut costs, it has been met with resistance from unions and government.

At the time, Ndabeni-Abrahams said that retrenchments were not an option, committing to negotiating a R3 billion bailout from National Treasury.

In his 2019 budget speech, finance minister Tito Mboweni did not mention the SABC as one of the state companies that would be getting any financial support from Treasury this year.

Support for state companies remained mostly the same as announced in 2018 mid-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), with the only changes being R69 billion in financial support for Eskom, and an additional bailout for the South African Post Office (SAPO).

The 2018 MTBPS allocated R5 billion to South African Airways (SAA), R1.2 billion to South African Express Airways and R2.9 billion to the South African Post Office (SAPO) in the current year.

An additional R1.5 billion was allocated to SAPO over the next year.

Other state-owned companies, including SAA, the SABC and Denel, have requested fiscal support to continue operating; however Mboweni said they will not get bailouts that blow the expenditure ceiling.

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SABC to get a bailout