Sanef seeks meeting with SABC over jobs bloodbath

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed concern over the looming retrenchments at the SABC.

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The ailing public broadcaster announced earlier this year that it was issuing retrenchment notices – which would affect 400 employees. Workers brought the SABC to a standstill on Tuesday, 17 November 2020, refusing to go on-air and demanding that management resign.

The SABC’s group executive for current affairs Phathiswa Magopeni was confronted by staffers who said they would not be accepting the retrenchments, prompting her to temporarily withdraw the notices. However the public broadcaster has said the process would still continue.

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“In light of the unfortunate incident which took place at our news division last night, please note that the S189 process is continuing as planned. SABC management and its Board apologise for any confusion that was created yesterday afternoon,” the SABC said in a statement.

The organisation has been plagued by financial troubles which many people believe was brought about by mismanagement.

SABC must fulfill its mandate, says SABC

Now Sanef intends meeting with the SABC to get a deeper understanding of its restructuring plans and its vision for the future of the public broadcaster.

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“Sanef calls on the SABC leadership to continue to fulfil its public mandate by ensuring that its budget cuts do not curtail a number of critical services including its African language and regional programming. We call for the SABC to ringfence core news and current affairs posts and not compromise its core public mandate of news delivery,” the editors’ forum said in a statement.

According to the body, since the country went into lockdown in March, more than 700 jobs have been lost in the media industry.

“Sanef notes with deep concern that in many newsrooms around the country, journalists are simply not replaced, resulting in a diminished capacity to cover the length and breadth of the country. With the prevailing tough economic conditions, advertising revenue has declined dramatically, and the bulk of digital advertising revenue leaves the country’s shores to Facebook and Google”

Sanef has called on media owners to think creatively and responsibly about implementing new, sustainable business models, built on the integrity and the trust that readers, viewers and listeners place in journalists to tell the country’s stories without fear or favour.