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Halting of retrenchments at SABC was political interference: Makathini

Bongumusa Makhathini said Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams decision last year to halt retrenchments, which were part of a cost-cutting strategy, amounted to political interference.

Bongumusa Makhathini, SABC board chairperson at the commission of inquiry into editorial independence on 5 August 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

PRETORIA - South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board chair Bongumusa Makathini said they still faced resistance within the organisations from politicians who were pushing against their attempts to turn the public broadcaster around.

Makathini was testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown on Monday.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo told the witness about previous evidence he has heard about state-owned companies where good people were attacked for trying to do the right thing.

Makathini said that was a situation they still faced at the SABC.

“You worry about your safety for trying to do what is right and the most frustrating thing at times is, they will cover some of these things as transformation and they will label you as someone who is gender-sensitive because they want to cover certain things behind gender and transformation.”

He said Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' decision in December last year to halt retrenchments, which were part of a cost-cutting strategy, amounted to political interference.

“That interference was improper in the sense that the strategy of the organisation is drafted by the executive team which has to be approved by the board. Only the board can approve a strategy and the executive must implement that strategy and nobody else.”

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