Joan Madiba looks at the SABC and the ongoing management crisis.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as the SABC is the “state-owned broadcaster in South Africa and which provides 18 radio stations, both AM/FM and three television broadcasts to the general public.”
The corporation was established in 1936 by the then government, with the aim of emphasizing the importance of the ideas and ideologies of the ruling party. At one time the SABC was owned by the managers who had ties to to the Broederbond (an elite society dedicated to pushing Afrikaner interests.) However, after the democratic elections in 1994, the mandate of the SABC took a dramatic turn in terms of ownership. As a state entity, the SABC will obviously face issues about the amount of control given to the state in a democracy however the need for revisions in the mandate were clear. Content in a post-Apartheid context needed to reflect all facets of South African society equally. As attempts were made to redress past inequalities in content the broadcaster still faced challenges with regards to ownership and management. However, the entity was also continuously accused of advancing the ideas of the ruling party of ANC, especially in news broadcasts.
It is said that the crisis at the SABC in recent times can be linked to an unstable management structure. The corporation “has seen the coming and going of four communications ministers, five SABC CEO’s, three boards, two chairs of the communications Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the resignation of five SABC board members.” With lack of managerial structure and stability it clear that content and direction of the organization is suffering greatly.
These struggles are on going. Recently, there have been reports in the media about six board members who have resigned. One is then prompted to ask if there is a continuous, unresolved crisis occurring at the SABC. If this is the case, is there hope for the future?
Since the entity is a public broadcaster, it has a serious duty towards the general South African public of the country concerning broadcasting and so forth. It is responsible for airing content that is educational, entertaining and appealing to the diverse South African audience.
From a citizen’s point of view the government has not accurately dealt with this on-going crisis so far.
Recently Minster of Communications Dina Pule was called on to duty to solve the crisis at the SABC. The minister outlined a few of the problems including “board members discussing board issues in the media; failure to attend meetings with her; failure to follow due procedure in appointing senior managers; and refusal to hand over a special investigations unit (SIU) report”. To solve the current crisis at the SABC, the National Assembly agreed to an appointment of an interim board, which will be appointed by the president.
One can only hope that these matters will be resolved in a proper manner, considering the fact that this is a public broadcaster, and it needs proper management if not control. There has to be some sort of resolution towards the on-going crisis of the SABC. However based on the manner in which these matters were dealt with in the past, one is forced to ask if things will be solved timeously and if this will this affect the content in anyway? The answers to these questions lies the solution lies in the hands of the interim board that will be appointed shortly.