SABC retrenchments: Ndabeni-Abrahams implores on board to preserve jobs

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Image credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has implored on SABC board to “consider all options” with a view to preserving jobs at the state broadcaster.

SABC staff held a silent protest on Monday at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg against plans to retrench up to 400 workers.

Down tools

On Tuesday, they held a tense meeting with SABC management and threatened to down tools if the the company goes ahead with the retrenchments.

SABC Group Executive for News and Current Affairs, Phathiswa Magopeni, later announced a temporary halt to the retrenchment process.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams said she and Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana had convened an “urgent” meeting with the board on Tuesday night to discuss the controversy.

The statement read, “The Minister took the opportunity to implore the SABC board to consider all possible options, with an aim to preserve jobs.

“This meeting also gave the Minister an opportunity to hear from all board members on the proposed retrenchments at the SABC, and to also consider the alternative voices of board members on the matter.”

SABC to account to Parliament

The SABC was set to appear before Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Wednesday morning to further discuss the matter.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was scheduled to attend it and “recommend a way forward.”

“I would like to call on the employees of the public broadcaster to exercise restraint and patience during this period of intervention by the Department and Parliament,” she said.

The financially embattled SABC revealed on Tuesday that it had incurred a R511 million loss in its 2019/20 financial year.

The retrenchments are part of its turnaround plan aimed at achieving financial sustainability. However, various political parties, unions and civil society groups have opposed them, including the ANC and its alliance.

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