The SABC headquarters at Auckland Park in Johannesburg. File picture: Cara Viereckl/Independent Media
Parliament – The SABC is facing the wrath of the unions after it said on Thursday it would have to retrench staff because of a cash crunch.

The public broadcaster conceded it was in financial trouble, that many projects were on hold and that jobs cuts were imminent.

The announcement left unions fuming.

The Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) said it would not allow the SABC to target workers for its poor management.

Bemawu president Hannes du Buisson said the SABC had brought the current situation upon itself. He said it had dug its own grave and therefore should not start targeting staff members by retrenching them.

“If they talk about retrenchments they must stand in the firing line themselves,” he said.

“In respect of the reasons they are in a bad financial position, they are the ones to blame. They are the ones who created this mess.”

Read: SABC admits it's on the brink of collapse

Du Buisson said the union was very concerned. He said the SABC had been involved in endless litigation and in a fight with MPs over its problems. They cannot blame anyone else but themselves, he added.

But through all this, President Jacob Zuma is standing firm. He told Parliament on Thursday he would not axe Communications Minister Faith Muthambi over the crisis at the SABC.

He said he would not act until the report on the SABC had been taken on review by Muthambi.

The SABC lost R551 million in the 2014 financial year. This was followed by a loss of R395m in 2015, and R411m last year.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the cash crunch would lead to the retrenchment of staff and some cost cutting.

He said bad publicity during the inquiry in Parliament had led to some of the sponsors dumping the SABC.

Kganyago said there has been a decline in revenue collection. This has pushed the SABC to take serious measures and has been using its reserves to operate, he added.

Zuma refused calls by MPs to fire Muthambi over the crisis at the SABC following the report in Parliament. He said Muthambi has taken the report by Parliament on review and that he would not be able to act.

Speaker Baleka Mbete has said she would not be able to overturn the decision of Parliament on the report.

This followed Muthambi’s letter to Mbete challenging the recommendations of the report that she should be fired.

Political Bureau