Johannesburg – Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s new political party, ACM, say they are dismayed by the broadcaster’s failure to pay its workers’ salaries and have asked that President Cyril Ramaphosa urgently intervene.
African Content Movement said in a statement on Tuesday that they had been "inundated with requests to intervene" and that Motsoeneng was available to offer his inputs for free "to return the SABC to the path of profitability".
Thousands of SABC staffers woke up on Tuesday morning to discover that they had not been paid their January salaries.
The SABC has blamed the non-payment of staff salaries on a technical glitch from a bank that was supposed to put the money into staff members’ accounts.
Speaking to The Star on Tuesday, spokesperson Neo Momodu said the SABC has money and the salaries would definitely be paid before the end of the day. She said the SABC’s coffers have not run dry.
ACM Secretary General Romeo Ramuada said on Tuesday: "We believe that the issue is not just a bank technical glitch. Poor leadership leads to catastrophic consequences for workers. This simply means that the current management cannot run a big entity like the SABC efficiently.
"The ACM has noted that the board of the SABC was employed to deal with individuals such as the ACM President Hlaudi Motsoeneng whilst they neglected the most important aspect of making the SABC profitable and financially sustainable."
Ramuada added: "When Mr Motsoeneng arrived at the SABC, it is well documented that there were financial and governance challenges. His team, with the assistance of the board, implemented a turnaround strategy and made the SABC the employer of choice. The SABC audited books shows that when Motsoeneng was fired by the new board, the audited financials placed R 881 million at its disposal.
"Today, audited financials paints a devastating picture- the SABC is only sitting at R130 million. It needs R600 million to run efficiently. We must ask ourselves as to what happened to the R881 million. Why was it difficult for the new board to sustain the SABC. The new board asked for six months to fix the public broadcaster, but the opposite is true- SABC fixed them.
"President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government have a duty to urgently intervene to secure the livelihoods of thousands of workers."
ACM said that under the leadership of Motsoeneng "every effort was made to ensure that workers and service providers were paid on time".
"During his term as COO, ACM President Hlaudi Motsoeneng has never reduced the public broadcaster to be a laughing stock like it has become today. The SABC management must stop blaming Motsoeneng and take responsibility for failing to run the Corporation as a profitable entity because when Motsoeneng left, he left it financially stable."
Motsoeneng was fired as SABC COO in 2017. The interim board said at the time that Motsoeneg had brought the public broadcaster into disrepute and caused irreparable damage.
His last months at the helm at the SABC saw massive changes at the broadcaster with his decision to interfere with the editorial independence of the organisation. He banned the broadcasting of protests. His decision to change the broadcaster’s policy to only air 90% local content was said to have cost the SABC millions of rand.