‘No government guarantee to bail out cash-strapped SABC’: Mboweni

SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. 
Image: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni declined to give the cash-strapped SABC a much-needed government guarantee in order for the public broadcaster to stay on air.

This was relayed to communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in a two-page letter dated June 25 2019, seen by TimesLIVE.

This comes hardly a week after Ndabeni-Abrahams told parliament she was prepared to quit her job rather than give the SABC a loan guarantee while it did not have a solid turnaround strategy.

It has taken Mboweni and Ndabeni-Abrahams four months to reject the public broadcaster’s loan guarantee application.

The SABC owes suppliers about R1.9bn while it struggles to continue paying salaries. Its buildings now pose an occupational health and safety risk to employees after years of no maintenance due to a lack of money.

“I therefore do not concur to the issuance of the R3.2bn guarantee. I draw your attention to the fiscal constraints which does not allow for the ongoing bailout of entities that should in effect be commercially sustainable if operated in an effective manner,” Mboweni said in his letter.

Communications department spokesperson Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini confirmed that the National Treasury had responded to Ndabeni-Abrahams with regards to the SABC  application for a government guarantee.

“The ministry confirms that a response to the SABC government guarantee application has been received from National Treasury. The minister is still engaging with National Treasury and further communication in this regard will be made upon engagement with all relevant stakeholders,” Mokitimi-Dlamini said.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu could not confirm or deny that the broadcaster’s application had been declined.

“The SABC, in line with protocol requirements, has submitted responses to Treasury on the pre-conditions for the government guarantee. The responses to the 11 preconditions from Treasury, was duly done by the organisation in writing through the department of communications on May 2 2019. The [department] would then send these inputs to Treasury on our behalf,” Mthembu said.

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