Open letter to the Minister in the Department of Communications:
Re: SABC Government Guarantee to the SABC
Dear Hon. Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams,
The failure to ensure a government loan guarantee for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will see the imminent collapse of the public broadcaster. The SABC has not received the government guarantee that you promised in an announcement to the South African Parliament.
HonourableMinister, as the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS), we are deeply concerned about the instability which has resulted from the failure to ensure that a government guarantee is delivered within the 10 day, and then the 45 day periods, as you promised. We are cognizant and have a deep understanding of the dire state of the SABC inherited by the current board, as a result of mismanagement and the failure of oversight of the SABC which reached its zenith under previous GCEO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, but the delayed loan has made matters far worse.
We understand from the media that the SABC has apparently not met the necessary criteria for the bailout conditions. We ask that these full conditions be made transparent to the public so that we in civil society, and in particular the independent film and television sector, can assess this claim and help track the SABC holding them to account in order to meet the treasury conditions.
The present scenario at the SABC is unacceptable. Within the last year we have continued to see the poor maintenance of the SABC’s buildings placing people in increasingly precarious and frankly dangerous conditions. We have already seen a number of accidents as a result of failing infrastructure at the SABC. These conditions demonstrate a flagrant disregard of the core responsibilities that the Department of Communication shoulders as the shareholder.
We are certain you support our contention that we cannot wait for a person to die before urgent action is taken.
The independent sector has felt the brunt of the economic instability of the SABC. Many producers have had to resort to drastic measures such as to closing down, retrenching or taking bank loans to stay in business. Instead of becoming a sector that could be competing and driving industrialization in South Africa, the Film and TV industry is hamstrung partly by this impasse.
The call to ensure that the SABC receives a government guarantee, on which its immediate survival depends, has been a long-sustained call from the board itself, civil society and the rest of South Africa. The Minister made an announcement to this effect in Parliament. And now with the resignation of the GCOO, and other key executives, threatening to do so too, we are facing an imploding SABC. Minister, can we please urge you to act to allow your legacy to be one of a truly independent and vibrant public broadcaster? We urge this because you as Minister are acting within the wider narrative of a South Africa that is attempting to put in practice reforms as embodied and echoed through the “new dawn” philosophy. Minister, within the boundaries and limitations of your role, you need to act in the best interests of the public broadcaster. Failure to do so will be a disadvantage to millions of people who rely on the SABC for information, education, and entertainment (the mandate of the SABC).
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