National 16.8.2016 05:11 pm

Muthambi approving journos’ trips ‘is just cost-cutting’

Minster of Communications Faith Muthambi. Picture: Gallo Images

Minster of Communications Faith Muthambi. Picture: Gallo Images

The broadcaster’s spokesperson said the decision was in line with Zuma’s decision to tighten belts at state institutions.

The SABC has come out in defence of a new policy implemented at the broadcaster that will see Communications Minister Faith Muthambi having the last word on overseas trips by journalists.

Reporters will now have to get their trips abroad approved by Muthambi and not senior management at the SABC. However, the broadcaster’s spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, said that this was nothing new and in line with President Jacob Zuma’s decision to implement cost-cutting measures at state institutions, including travelling costs.

“At the time, the president mentioned that we are curtailing the issue of overspending at our institutions, and that includes international travel.

“It was also followed up by the finance minister (Pravin Gordhan) in his budget speech this year and now it has come to a point where the minister (Muthambi) must implement that in her department. She has written to the SABC, but not just (them) – also to everyone under her portfolio to say that she needs to approve plans.”

In the letter, obtained by News24, Muthambi’s office informs staff that trips must be motivated and accompanied with a formal report. The SABC is now required to submit formal requests for all international trips to the minister for approval, effective immediately,” the letter reportedly said.

The letter also states that requests must now be submitted through the CFO’s office.

During his state of the nation address in February this year, Zuma refers to new cost-cutting measures to be implemented by all government departments.

“Excessive and wasteful expenditure has been reduced, but there is still more to be done to cut wastage. I would like to announce some measures this evening. Overseas trips will be curtailed and those requesting permission will have to motivate strongly and prove the benefit to the country.”

Muthambi’s office released a statement today, saying that the the ministry of communications had written to “all entities that fall within the communications portfolio” informing them of the new “cost-containment measures”.

They were sent to Brand SA, Icasa, the Media Development and Diversity Agency, Film and Publications Board and the SABC.

– simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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