SABC’s expenditure outstrips its revenue, MPs hear

The public broadcaster’s board and top management came to tell the communications oversight committee of their plans to put it back on track.

Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s crippling wage bill has come into sharp focus at Parliament.

The public broadcaster’s board and top management came to tell the communications oversight committee of their plans to put it back on track.

The SABC’s expenditure currently outstrips what it makes in revenue. Its wage bill is just over R3 billion and swallows around 42% of its operating expenditure.

The public broadcaster recently started consulting with unions and employees over possible retrenchments, but it’s made it clear these will only be a last resort, with board member Jack Phahlane saying the talks are about trying to avoid job cuts.

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe says the focus on staffing levels at the SABC is across the board, including management.

“The process of staff optimisation is not just focusing on lower levels, it’s across [the board]. If you look at our bloated management, we have about 495 [managers] – not 1,000 – and that accounts for just over R540 million of the [wage bill of] R3.1 billion.”

Reasons for the wage bill ballooning over the years include higher than inflation increases, employees promoted from administration posts to management and a disregard for policies and processes.

Mxakwe says some appointments and promotions are being reversed.

MPs wanted to know how many staff were up for retrenchment, but Mxakwe told them the SABC needed first to conclude consultations with unions and staff in terms of Section 29 of the Labour Relations Act.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)