Broadcaster under pressure to drop retrenchment bid
The ongoing SABC process to retrench 600 workers and drop 1 200 freelancers is falling apart as pressure mounts from inside and outside the public broadcaster to abandon the controversial decision.
Sunday World can reveal that the section 189 process to shed jobs has divided the board, with three members opposing the move to cut the corporation’s headcount in a bid to save R700-million.
The ANC and parliament’s portfolio committee on communications have warned against the move to retrench workers, with the latter saying the organisation should consider reskilling and upskilling its workforce. So intense is the pressure on the SABC leadership to shelve the decision to dump workers that the corporation’s board chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, refused to attend an ANC meeting in parliament on Monday, a day before the leadership of the organisation appeared before parliament’s portfolio committee on communications.
SABC deputy board chairperson Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi and two other board members are leading the rebellion against the process to cut jobs. It has emerged that Mohlala-Mulaudzi, Mary Papayya and Dr Marcia Socikwa did not vote in favour of the retrenchment process on June 4.
E-mail exchanges between Mohlala-Mulaudzi and Makhathini show that they have fallen out over the section 189 process. Mohlala-Mulaudzi insisted before the expected appearance of the SABC leadership in parliament that the board had not resolved to commence a process of retrenching workers.
“I am sorry I will not be able to join the delegation to parliament because I will be expected to present and participate as part of the SABC delegation on an issue I don’t agree with, which is that of the proposed retrenchment of 600 sta members and/or section 189 process,” she said in one of the e-mails.
Two board members confirmed that Mohlala-Mulaudzi and Socikwa voted against the retrenchments. They said Papayya opted to abstain.
Socikwa also declined to participate in the discussions, allegedly because she didn’t agree with the proposal, according to a board member, who said she and Mohlala-Mulaudzi were sowing division in the board and accused them of trying to get it dissolved. Mohlala-Mulaudzi, Socikwa and Papayya did not responded to a request for comment.
This week, the portfolio committee on communications reiterated its position that the retrenchments were premature and told the SABC to start the process of consultation from scratch.
SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said: “The SABC confirms that SABC board chairperson Mr Bongumusa Makhatini informed the ANC that the SABC would not be able to attend the study group. The SABC never discusses how individual members may or may not have voted on any board decisions in con dential board discussions.”