'It isn't a Stella show': Phumzile Van Damme says minister mustn't interfere in SABC retrenchments

The DA's Phumzile Van Damme has slammed the ANC for not doing enough to prevent job losses at the SABC. File photo.
The DA's Phumzile Van Damme has slammed the ANC for not doing enough to prevent job losses at the SABC. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

“The SABC is not a Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams show, it is a public broadcaster which is protected by law from political interference so that it can provide content that reflects the plurality and the variety of news in SA in advancing the national and public interest.”

This is what DA MP and shadow communications minister Phumzile Van Damme had to say to minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams about her interference in the SABC's suspended retrenchment process, during a heated debate in parliament on Tuesday. 

The SABC last month announced the suspension of retrenchments until the end of December after a meeting with ministers of communications and digital technologies, Ndabeni-Abrahams, and employment and labour, Thulas Nxesi. 

This comes after SABC employees embarked on a go-slow when the broadcaster announced that it would be retrenching 400 staff members as a measure to stay afloat. The SABC had reported a R511m loss for the financial year ending in March and a decline in revenue from R6.4bn the previous year to R5.7bn. It said there were about 170 vacancies for which staff could apply.

Last week, Van Damme warned of “wolves in sheep's clothing” who had led the SABC to spiral into crisis.

“I empathise deeply with SABC staff facing the prospect of retrenchment. The thought of possibly losing your income must be painful, depressing and cause of anxiety. However, let me caution you [against] opening the door to wolves in sheep’s clothing who promise you the earth and the moon,” she said.

“It is because of those wolves you find yourself where you are. It is those wolves who will turn around and devour you. I saw earlier Ace Magashule was asked to intervene. Ace Magashule? Political intervention? Let me leave that with you to reflect on.”

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