While she doesn’t want to divulge how much the SABC wants for a bailout, Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo is looking for a lasting solution for the SABC’s money problems rather than a quick-fix.
This she said to reporters at a post-cabinet briefing on Thursday morning, a day after she told the National Assembly that the SABC will not have the financial resources to meet its financial obligations after it recorded a loss of R509m in the fourth quarter of the last financial year, which ended on March 31.
On Wednesday morning, the interim SABC board presented an update on the steps they had taken since assuming their work in mid-April.
Khanyisile Kweyama, chairperson of the interim board, said they had submitted a funding proposal to Dlodlo earlier on Wednesday. Kweyama didn’t want to divulge further details publicly before Dlodlo had a look at it.
In the afternoon Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme asked Dlodlo how much money the SABC had applied for, but Dlodlo answered that she haven’t yet received the proposal.
Thursday morning she said that Van Damme was “extremely mischievous” when she asked that question.
“I did receive it [the SABC’s funding proposal] last night, after the sitting,” she said.
She asked her financial team to assist her to deal with the proposal. She did not want to divulge the figure asked for as a bailout and said she wouldn’t want to commit herself to a figure.
“I’m not looking for a today or tomorrow solution. I’m looking at a lasting solution for sustainability at the SABC.”
She said funding for the digital migration programme is not included in the figure the SABC proposed, and she will get back to the SABC about that.
Meanwhile, the DA said they will not support amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would require the licensing of mobile devices like computers, cellphones and tablets.
During Wednesday’s meeting with the portfolio committee, the SABC’s CFO and acting CEO James Aguma hinted that the broadcaster considers changing the definition of “receiving device” under the Broadcasting Act to bolster its failing licensing revenue.
Given the slew of issues currently surrounding the SABC, MPs didn’t really interrogate the matter.
On Thursday morning, Van Damme released a statement on the matter after it was widely reported.
“The DA strongly advises the SABC not to table this amendment in Parliament, and rather devote time to finding innovative ways to fund the public broadcaster,” said Van Damme.
“It is indeed possible for the SABC to stay afloat without seeking to further tax the already over-burdened South African taxpayer.”