Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) said on Monday it would closely monitor the retrenchment process at the cash-strapped public broadcaster SABC, adding that the corporation should contemplate job cuts only if all other cost-cutting options had been explored.

This comes after the South African Broadcasting Corporation announced on Friday that it had met with unions to inform them it was contemplating implementing Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act as part of a number of cost-cutting measures.

The SABC reported a net loss of R622 million for the 2017/2018 financial year, with one of the biggest cost drivers being the salary bill. The SABC is a R7.2 billion revenue generating company with a salary bill of R3.1 billion. 

In a statement, Sanef said part of the dire financial situation the SABC finds itself in was due to the reckless mismanagement epitomized by former chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

"This included his mismanagement of human resources. Also, Sanef notes the lack of oversight from Parliament and the regulator during this dark period. Going forward it is critical that the capacity of these governance and oversight structures are strengthened," it said.

"Sanef notes that the cruelty of the situation is that workers, once again, are at the receiving end of leadership abuse and negligence."

It said if there was no other option, the labour law must be closely followed with transparency and commitment to negotiate fairly with organized labour and that the SABC’s ability to deliver on its mandate must not be compromised.

"Non-core support staff and administration units should be cut if anything is to be cut," the editors' forum added.

Sanef also said it supported the SABC board in its handling of attempts by the ruling ANC party's secretary-general Ace Magashule to intervene in the broadcaster's cost-cutting plans. Magashule accused the SABC of taking a decision not to 'allow' the section 189 process currently underway.

African News Agency/ANA