‘Drowning in debt’ SABC on brink of collapse

SABC headquarters in Uitsaaisentrum, Johannesburg

The South African Broadcasting Company (SABC) is “drowning in debt” and requires a Rand 3.2 billion (€1.9bn) injection from the government in order to avoid a shutdown.

To make matters worse, the organisation says that it might not be able to pay employee salaries for the month of June.

Speaking with the Sunday Times, SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini said: “I’m not sure how we are going to pay for salaries come end of June. We have also not maintained any of our infrastructure and a communication blackout is imminent. We anticipated ‘Day Zero’ in March, but we have managed to stay on air until now.”

Makhathini also confirmed that the PSB has amassed Rand 1.9 billion (€120 million) in debt that it can’t pay off. “We owe SanTech about Rand 337 million; we owe Supersport, which talks to us being able to cover sports, we them about Rand 223 million. We owe the City of Joburg over Rand 10 million.”

“Can you imagine if the City of Joburg was to say they want their money all of it tomorrow, or if SanTech says ‘guys pay us something, otherwise we’re going under.’”

The financial situation of SABC is reflective of a larger issue in South Africa amongst state-owned companies. Power utility company Eskom and South African Airways are both in a similar cash-strapped state. It is alleged that, for nine years, the government of president Jacob Zuma has looted and mismanaged government business. This is an allegation denied by the administration.


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