Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana has noted with concern the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on sexual harassment allegations at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
In a letter sent to the SABC board chairperson, Bongumusa Makathini, the Deputy Minister expressed concern about the manner in which human resource executives have been implicated in the report.
"A failure to act by such senior executives on sexual harassment allegations creates an environment wherein women are rendered powerless and incapable of asserting their rights," Kekana said.
She, however, commended the SABC for the initiation of the inquiry.
The Deputy Minister called on the SABC to investigate the pay gap between men and women in the same positions and/or line of work, with the aim of correcting discrepancies, if any.
"It is important for public institutions of this nature to hold up the best values of our society, chief amongst those being a concerted and tangible commitment towards gender equality," Kekana said.
Commission of Inquiry into Sexual Harassment
On 1 June 2018, the SABC announced the establishment of Commission of Inquiry into sexual harassment to investigate instances of sexual harassment at the corporation.
The commission, independent from the SABC and headed by an independent commissioner, completed its work on 31 October 2018. Its final report was presented to the SABC board and the board accepted in its entirety.
Among the key findings of the commission was the failure by Human Resources to follow procedures outlined in the broadcaster's policy on sexual harassment, as well as the code of good practice of the Employment Equity Act.
While the commission congratulated the SABC for instituting the inquiry, it noted, however, that for this to truly give complainants justice and closure, "the recommendations for each case must be implemented expeditiously".
"Most of the complainants do not have jobs and medical aid to access counselling and this is a service all require. The short-term provision of counselling during the hearing had visible positive impacts on complainants and all appreciated the service," the commission noted.
The commission said the findings that relate to individual cases require re-opening of such to ensure appropriate responses, in line with SABC policies and the Code of the Employment Equity Act.
"A strong perception exists that HR and senior managers collude with and cover up for alleged perpetrators, and the poor and inept handling of cases seen has not done much to disprove this perception," the commission found.
The commission noted a need for the overarching training of all staff on gender equality and human rights, with a particular focus on gender equality and violence against women, taking into consideration the current trends and context. The skills of officials who serve on the sexual harassment panels must be enhanced.
The commission also noted that the public broadcaster does not take sexual harassment seriously and the culture of sweeping things like sexual harassment under the carpet is prevalent.
"SABC needs to develop a culture that embraces the enhancement of human rights and gender rights," the commission recommended.
Other recommendations are:
SABC needs to re-introduce an induction programme to ensure that employees are inducted into the culture of the Corporation and various policies. In the absence of cooperate culture, everybody does as they please.
SABC needs to hold diversity management and drive a culture of acceptance and respect for the diverse cultures in the organisation.
The SABC's sexual harassment policy needs to be reviewed to be in line with international law, SABC policies and domestic laws. To supplement the policy, a standard operating procedure or policy guidelines must be put in place to give teeth to the sexual harassment policy.
SABC should provide a budget and other resources for the effective and full implementation of sexual harassment policy.
SABC should introduce a gender desk or gender focal points.
The almost parity between women and men in employment figures does not translate into the SABC being a gender responsive work environment.