SABC got a R3.2 billion bailout — and now it’s worse off

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is worse off now than before it received a R3.2 billion bailout from the government.

This is feedback from the Deputy Minister of Communications, Philly Mapulane (pictured), who appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications.

Mapulane told the committee that the state broadcaster is in a worse position than before a R3.2 billion bailout from the state.

“You will recall we supported the turnaround plan. It was implemented with the hope it would turn around the fortunes of the SABC, but the turnaround plan never turned the finances of the SABC,” he said.

“We are back to where we were, if not in a worse position than when we started with a bailout.”

Mapulane called for fundamental interventions at the SABC and told Parliament that the board was creating another turnaround plan.

SABC board chairperson Khathutshelo Ramukumba said the turnaround plan will be given to the Minister of Communications, Mondli Gungubele, by the end of this month.

During his appearance before Parliament, Mapulane also revealed that the SABC had requested R1.5 billion in additional funding from the National Treasury, which was rejected.

“The argument was that because of the macro environment the SABC has painted, operating under the environment of analogue switch off and the need for the SABC to make sure the elections are covered, we submitted a motivation to the Treasury for R1.5 billion,” said Mapulane.

“When the Minister was tabling the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, that allocation was not accepted, so we didn’t get what we requested.”

Mapulane is hopeful that in the next Budget Speech in 2024, the National Treasury will grant the SABC additional funding.

The SABC has previously warned that it will collapse financially if it does not receive an urgent cash injection from the government and fundamentally change its operating model.

The SABC is in extreme financial distress and could be forced to apply for business rescue, according to the group’s CFO, Yolande van Biljon.

Mondli Gungubele, South African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Chaos at the SABC

Former SABC board member Mathatha Tsedu said there is chaos at the SABC, with rampant corruption and fraud affecting the company’s performance.

He said the board was forced to intervene in the company’s management to try and stop the corruption at the state-owned enterprise.

Tsedu was speaking on the back of a High Court ruling that the former interim board, of which Tsedu was a member, interfered with procurement processes that led to the awarding of an irregular security contract in 2017.

“The interim board arrived at the SABC and found so much chaos that we had to be involved in almost everything. We were almost living there and acting like an executive board,” Tsedu said.

In normal circumstances, Tsedu admitted that much of what the board did would be seen as undue interference.

However, due to the broadcaster’s extreme circumstances, the board felt obliged to interfere in the SABC management.

The board cancelled numerous contracts, including some involving the Gupta family, despite it not being the board’s duty to do so.

“We just needed to find a way of making sure that whatever plans have been put in place to facilitate corruption could not continue,” Tsedu said.

“Our position was that whatever this corrupt system we were sitting over had proposed had to be stopped.”

Despite the ruling from the High Court, “My conscience is clear,” Tsedu said. “The SIU report says that nothing untoward occurred. If I have to die, so be it.”

This article was first published by Daily Investor and is reproduced with permission.

Now read: SABC fails to pay R745-million bill for sending out its TV signal

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SABC got a R3.2 billion bailout — and now it’s worse off