File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison
File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison

SABC not out of the woods despite R2bn bailout

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Oct 5, 2019

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Cape Town - The SABC is not out of the woods yet, despite being assured it will be given a bailout of R2.1 billion to immediately meet its most pressing financial obligations.

Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said the SABC had initially wanted R3.2bn immediately, but would get only R2.1bn on Monday.

She said the broadcaster could expect another tranche of R1.1bn to come in later.

Ndabeni-Abrahams confirmed the SABC had said it required a bailout to the total of R6.8bn and an initial R3.2bn would cover some of its urgent needs.

The DA and ACDP said they needed to keep an eye on the use of funds at the public broadcaster.

Phumzile van Damme of the DA said they knew this was a complex matter, but funds must be properly monitored and if there was any abuse, action must be taken.

The leader of the ACDP, Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, said the SABC and Eskom were alike in being bottomless pits.

“We believe these are never-ending bailouts. SABC and Eskom are becoming a waste of taxpayers’ money because of inefficiencies,” said Meshoe.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni insisted no state-owned entity would receive financial bailouts without the imposition by the government of stringent conditions.

He said each entity receiving a bailout would have a chief restructuring officer appointed to monitor its financial performance and use of money.

The SABC will get a chief restructuring officer after the Department of Communications and the National Treasury finalise requirements for the total package of R6.8bn.

The bailout comes after the SABC board appointed Ian Plaatjies as the new chief operating officer.

Plaatjies worked at the South African Bureau of Standards as chief digital officer.

The position had been vacant for a while after the SABC fired Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said: “We are working on the finalisation of the bigger amount of R6.8bn. We are engaging with the National Treasury in following normal processes of getting funding.”

She said out of the eight conditions that had been set by the National Treasury, the national broadcaster had met five, partially met two and failed to meet one.

Some of the conditions would require the SABC to identify non-core assets to dispose of.

Mboweni had said there were many SOEs that should dispose of their non-core assets.

State arms manufacturer Denel, which recently got a bailout of R2bn, also said it would identify some of the non-core assets to be sold off.

Politics Bureau

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