There can be no other possible inferences drawn from the emergence of reports that the SABC will not be able to pay the rent this month, than that the public broadcaster’s woes started some while back.
The SABC reportedly needs in the region of R650 million a month to operate and that reserves had dwindled to R174 million in December, a staggering collapse of available working capital from the R1 billion in reserve held in December 2015.
A confidential SABC treasury report to the end of January warned of the massive shortfall – despite acting CEO James Aguma telling parliament last month that the public broadcaster’s financial performance was “satisfactory”. It also said that unless urgent funding was found, the airwaves could fall suddenly silent.
This catastrophic state of affairs, we would submit, points to a recent history of gross mismanagement and a series of politically motivated shenanigans stretching all the way to the top of the twin towers of the corporation’s headquarters west of Joburg.
The undeniable fact that the SABC has, since the days of apartheid, continued to be a voice of the ruling regime rather than a voice of the people, has simply exacerbated an untenable situation.
The recent parliamentary inquiry into the public broadcaster pointed the finger of blame squarely at a board in total disarray and at a chain of dubious deals involving the Gupta-owned media outlets’ special access which, in turn, was linked to a campaign of internal terror orchestrated by former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
It has been clear for some while that a collapse was on the cards. This, if the report is accurate – and we have no reason to think otherwise – has already happened and the only solution left is yet another costly government bailout of a catastrophically badly run state-owned entity.