SABC Retrenchments

Photo: Richard Tanswell / Flickr

Civil war erupts at SABC: Network makes ‘another u-turn’ on retrenchments

It’s bedlam behind the scenes at SABC, as board members fight for control of the network. Sadly, it seems a ‘reprieve’ on retrenchments was short-lived.

SABC Retrenchments

Photo: Richard Tanswell / Flickr

There is a bitter confrontation brewing in the offices of the state broadcaster this week. On Tuesday, SABC General Executive Phathiswa Magopeni said she would no longer issue letters of retrenchment, and suggested a new process going forward. However, a little over 12 hours later, this concession already looks to have been reversed.

Will SABC go ahead with staff retrenchments?

The public broadcaster’s head of human resources, Mojaki Mosia, said in a three-line email sent to staff on Wednesday morning that the process for retrenchments would ‘continue as planned’.

“In light of the unfortunate incident which took place at our news division last night, please note that the S189 process is continuing as planned. SABC management and its Board apologise for any confusion that was created yesterday afternoon. Management will engage with the news team on the concerns that they have raised.”

Mojaki Mosia

SABC staff revolt against management

Mamodupi Mohlala, SABC board deputy chairperson, took to the airwaves on Wednesday to reveal that in-fighting has grabbed hold of the network’s board. There’s a split of five against ten, who are trying to argue against mass retrenchments. Mohlala said that her faction was struggling to halt the lay-off procedures.

“There are many of us on the SABC board who do not agree with section 189 [retrenchment] process. It’s just that unfortunately, that some who have been pushing the section 189 process and have been pushing it very vigorously.”

Mamodupi Mohlala

SANEF react to stand-off

Meanwhile, the SA National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) has issued its response to the matter, slamming the ‘instability’ that has emerged at the state-owned company. The group notes that this heralds a dark time for journalism in Mzansi:

“The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is concerned about the instability at the SABC after the announcement of impending retrenchments. We call for the SABC to ringfence core news and current affairs posts and not compromise its core public mandate of news delivery. We will meet with SABC to get a deeper understanding of its restructuring plan.”

“SANEF notes with deep concern that in many newsrooms around the country, journalists are being retrenched and simply not replaced. With the prevailing tough economic conditions, advertising revenue has declined dramatically, and the bulk of digital advertising revenue leaves the country’s shores to Facebook and Google.”

SANEF statement