CAPE TOWN – Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says the urgent interim funding the Treasury has promised the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will help it settle some debt and allow it to pay salaries at the end of the month.
Her announcement during a meeting of Parliament’s communications committee on Tuesday came after the public broadcaster’s CEO Madoda Mxwake warned that the SABC could be broke by month end.
Ndabeni-Abrahams says she doesn’t know how much money the SABC will get but made it clear it wouldn’t be the R6.8 billion it has asked for.
As elections loom, the minister’s announcement will come as a relief to staffers trying to keep the SABC ship afloat and the millions of people who rely on it for information as polling day draws near.
Treasury’s lifeline might avert what Mxwake’s presentation to the committee warned could lead to “a black on-air scenario”.
“I think I need to be honest that our cash flow is depleted. We cannot honour payments to service providers, we cannot adhere to all our committed contracts and we cannot even commission local content production as a result of the severe liquidity challenges that we are facing.”
Mxwake says several providers of key programmes no longer engage with the SABC.
“Understandably, because we’ve not been able to pay them in the past couple of months.”
Health and safety is also an issue because the SABC can’t afford to maintain its buildings.
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