Ndabeni-Abrahams: SABC cannot be allowed to die a natural death

She said the broadcaster was critical to the country and must be predominantly funded through public means.

FILE: Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) can't be allowed to die a natural death, said Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

She said the broadcaster was critical to the country and must be predominantly funded through public means.

On Tuesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams responded to a debate on the growing crisis at the corporation, which plans to retrench hundreds of staff.

ALSO READ: Opposition MPs say restructuring process & cost-cutting at SABC 'unavoidable'

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the SABC was not immune to state capture, which affected many state-owned companies.

“SABC was also embroiled in the state capture and all of us here should take the blame because it happened under our watch.”

She said the public broadcaster has an expensive public mandate amid escalating costs for signal distribution and intense competition.

ALSO READ: CWU describes negotiations with SABC management as hostile

The minister added it was common knowledge the SABC was commercially funded with only 3.5% in government grants.

“It stands a chance of creating jobs for many of our youth, women and people with disabilities. We, therefore, believe that the SABC can never be irrelevant as many would want us to believe.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Court is on Wednesday expected to rule on an urgent application by broadcast workers union Bemawu seeking to stop job cuts at the SABC.

The retrenchment process has been halted until the end of this month to allow for further negotiations.

But Bewawu said the postponement was not good enough and it's demanding the entire Section 189 process be scrapped.

Bemawu said it hopesdthe Labour Court would rule in its favour when it hands down judgment on Wednesday.

It wants the court to order the SABC to reverse its decision to cut about 400 jobs.

The broadcast union believes the SABC has not explored all processes to avert job losses.

It has also accused the SABC of failing to consult openly with the union and affected employees before going ahead with the Section 189 process.

Last month, workers held lunchtime pickets outside SABC offices demanding management take responsibility for the corporation's long-standing financial problems.

‘WATCH: It’s not okay’ - SABC journalist makes tearful appeal against retrenchments

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