SABC to get R2.1bn portion of bailout

The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Cash-strapped state broadcaster SABC will on Monday receive R2.1bn of the R3.2bn bailout it requested from the government to keep its cameras and microphones on.

Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said in a briefing in Pretoria that the first tranche will be paid as the broadcaster has met five of the eight preconditions set by the Treasury.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the remaining balance of R1.1bn will be transferred once the public broadcaster fully meets the remaining three outstanding preconditions.

The broke public broadcaster was slapped with a qualified audit opinion for the 2018/2019 financial year. It received a disclaimer the previous financial year, which is the worst possible audit outcome.

The SABC’s annual report tabled in parliament on Monday shows that the broadcaster incurred irregular expenditure of R5.2bn, up from R4.9bn the previous year. This as it faces an uncertain future due to crippling financial challenges.

The five preconditions that have been fully met by the SABC are:

  • Determining immediate cash requirements supported by detailed cash flow projections for the next 12-18 months;
  • Conducting a thorough investigation into what caused the financial collapse of the SABC and why the previous turnaround plans have not been implemented;
  • Providing an update of how the entity is dealing with people implicated in an investigation report;
  • Developing a turnaround plan incorporating measures to prevent the re-occurence of the identified factors; and
  •  Submitting a list of identified initiatives for revenue enhancement and cost-cutting initiatives.

The preconditions that are partially met by the SABC include producing separate financial reporting for public and commercial broadcasting services, and identifying noncore assets for disposal to assist with reducing the recapitalisation requirement from government, said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

However, she said the SABC has not met the condition to “develop a comprehensive private sector participation strategy”, which highlights initiatives to be implemented and the net value to be derived from such partnerships.

“However, willingness to work on this condition has been expressly provided and this is welcomed by the two departments,” she said, thanking finance minister Tito Mboweni for his support.

SABC chair Bongumusa Makhathini said the news was “exciting” and that the broadcaster was waiting for this money to fund its turnaround strategy. “At a later stage we will have our own press conference [on the bailout] because this was the minister’s press conference,” he said.

“I want to thank the Treasury, the minister and everyone for making sure we get this R2.1bn.”

He said some of the money will be used to source content and to pay off some of the SABC’s debts.

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