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

Minister defends decision to spend R1.2m on bulletproof vests for SABC

By Zingisa Mkhuma, Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Dec 20, 2020

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Johannesburg - The SABC spent nearly R1.2 million on 100 bulletproof vests for its journalists and Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has defended the purchase as necessary.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was responding to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe, who asked why the vests were deemed necessary equipment for the SABC staff.

”The signed business case was received by supply chain management on the 9 March 2018. This is a date in which vests were deemed necessary equipment for staff in the SABC news division,” Ndabeni-Abrahams responded.

She said the vests are to be distributed equitably to all SABC news offices and not assigned to individual reporters.

The 100 vests were between the sizes medium and extra extra large, and cost between R9 300 and R11 000 each.

Ndabeni-Abrahams also revealed that the public broadcaster, which has announced that it will retrench some of its staff, spent R58.4m on independent contractors spend between April to October this year.

She also defended the SABC’s R11m wage bill for July this year, which included R9m actually paid plus a further R2m for accrued expenses.

”During the hard lockdown period, journalists were complemented by the independent contractors, and this is the period that more Covid-19 cases were reported in the news division, and freelancers were utilised. The nature of the SABC news operation is such that services of independent contractors are indispensable,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

She also told Van der Merwe that the SABC hired Johannesburg-based public relations agency PR Worx for 12 months to clean up its image for R2.3m in July this year.

Asked why it was deemed necessary to hire a public relations company to do work for the SABC considering that public broadcaster has an internal PR component and personnel, Ndabeni-Abrahams said it was further add to the its turnaround strategy, address and better manage its reputation and corporate image, which is a priority.

According to Ndabeni-Abrahams, the SABC therefore sought a suitably qualified and competent firm as the reputation management, corporate image building and market research services that the public broadcaster required but were not available from its internal skills set and resources.

Ndabeni-Abrahams also revealed that the SABC’s legal bill was over R65.3m.

Last month, the SABC was forced to reinstate its television news anchor Palesa Chubisi after the Labour Court declared the termination of her contract of employment on October 19, 2020 unlawful, invalid and of no force and effect.

The Labour Court also set aside the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate Chubisi’s contract of employment and ordered that she be permitted to report for duty with immediate effect.

Three weeks ago, the SABC lost its bid to overturn commercial enterprises general manager Nompumelelo Phasha’s reinstatement at the Labour Appeal Court after she was dismissed in 2018.

Sunday Independent

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