South Africa: SABC On the Blink After a Week of Chaos

analysis

After days of drama over 400 proposed retrenchments, staff are threatening to take the SABC off air, turning their biggest weapon - public platforms - on its board and management.

First published in Daily Maverick 168.

In one corner: an SABC board hell-bent on the financial revitalisation of yet another flailing state-owned entity. In the other: SABC journalists who see themselves as fighting to protect the national broadcaster's public mandate yet again - but this time against the forces of commercialisation rather than State Capture. As a power struggle between the two camps plays out in brutal fashion in the public eye, what is at risk of being lost yet again is editorial independence.

Long-brewing tension

By Tuesday, when journalists dramatically went live with footage of heated staff discussions over 400 proposed job cuts, signs were there that the situation was tipping into anarchy at Auckland Park. But those close to the situation say tension had been brewing for months. Disgruntled SABC staffers formed the SABC editorial forum - which a senior SABC insider described to Daily Maverick 168 as "not a recognised structure" - to voice growing concerns about perceived sidelining of current affairs.

Those at the forefront of...

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