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Johannesburg - The scramble is on for a R3 billion bailout to save the SABC from sinking deeper into financial trouble, amid plans of a jobs bloodbath.

The National Treasury and Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane could meet as early as next week to resolve the bailout issue.

The Department of Communications and the SABC board said on Wednesday they wanted the meeting to reach a deal next week, amid plans to cut over 900 permanent jobs, among others.

SABC Board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini told Parliament that it was trying to resolve the issue of the R3bn guarantee as this would get the public broadcaster out of trouble.

“We have had a number of meetings on our dire financial situation.

“We sent a letter to the minister of communications, the minister of finance and the president to sit down with them.

“I got an indication from the chief of staff that the meeting will happen next week,” said Makhathini.

He said Mokonyane had engaged with former finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene where he gave them a borrowing letter.

But the banks would not give them the loans because of the disclaimer from the auditor-general.

The disclaimer is the worst audit opinion and the AG indicates the books of the company or organisation are so bad he cannot formulate an opinion.

The SABC will next year incur another loss of R803million. This in addition to the R622m financial loss in the last financial year.

On Wednesday, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) blasted the SABC for not acting against officials responsible for the irregular expenditure of R4.9bn.

Scopa demanded a full list of all officials implicated in irregular expenditure that were identified by the attorney-general.

Chief financial officer in the department of communications Dikeledi Thindisa told Scopa that a meeting was planned with National Treasury to deal with the crisis.

“There is a meeting between the minister of communications and the minister of finance on the government guarantee,” she said.

“As a department, we have been engaging the SABC on the turnaround strategy. We will take Scopa through as soon we finalise those processes,” said Thindisa.

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) said it noted comments from the SABC about drastic measures to deal with its financial crisis. Sanef said the SABC could not be to allowed to fail ahead of the crucial polls next year.

“Sanef calls on government to urgently address the immediate cash flow problems at the SABC. Further, Sanef calls on the SABC board to ensure that in its retrenchment plans it ensures that cuts do not impact on the SABC’s ability to fulfil its public service mandate. 

“We are particularly concerned about cuts to news and current affairs. These areas must be addressed in the retrenchment plans,” said Sanef.

Political Bureau