Another SOE, another bailout: SABC to get R2.1b to stay afloat

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Image credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has announced that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will get a R2.1 billion bailout on Monday next week.

Ndabeni-Abrahams made the announcement at a press briefing on Friday in Pretoria.

SABC had requested for R3.2 billion to say afloat, but will only get R2.1 billion because it has not met all the conditions set by Treasury, she said.

5 of 8 conditions met

She said SABC has met five of the eight conditions. The balance of R1.1 billion will be disbursed once it meets the remaining three.

The conditions it has met include preparing 12 to 18-month cash flow projections, developing a turnaround strategy, and investigating why it failed to implement previous turnaround plans.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the state broadcaster failed to meet one condition – developing “a comprehensive private sector participation strategy.”

It has met two conditions only partially, including identifying noncore assets that could be disposed.

SABC’s troubles

The state broadcaster has experienced years of financial difficulties. Its most recent annual report shows it incurred R5.2 billion in irregular expenditure in its financial year.

It also obtained a qualified audit opinion in the 2018/2019 financial year. The recently released report of the commission of inquiry into editorial interference at the SABC also revealed instances of mismanagement.

The inquiry established that staff members were threatened with dismissal if they failed to execute certain instructions.

In the end, the state broadcaster was derailed from its mandate and editorial policies, according to the inquiry.

Turnaround strategy

SABC’s turnaround strategy sets out key objectives, with achieving financial stability, including reducing employee costs, key among them.

According to a Sunday Times report in July, SABC may also consider “dissolving SABC Sport.”

It has also appointed a new chief operations officer, Ian Plaatjies, who is set to begin his role on 1 November.

SABC is the latest state-owned enterprise to get a government bailout.

In August, arms manufacturer Denel received a R1.8 billion bailout, while power utility Eskom will get R59 billion over the next two financial years.

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