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SABC closes Kimberley offices after staffer tests positive for Covid-19

The IOL reported the SABC has closed its Kimberley offices and has asked all employees to quarantine after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus.

Mmoni Seapolelo the acting spokesperson for the public broadcaster confirmed the case at its Northern Cape provincial office.

“As a precautionary measure, we will close the Kimberley office and all employees based in that office will also be quarantined. The employee concerned is under quarantine and will be monitored,” she said.

It is believed the employee is a journalist.

BEMAWU has been urging the SABC since the 17th of March 2020 to sent home its non-core staff to curb the spread of the virus and to safeguard employees.

The SABC did not do so.

Instead, the SABC accused BEMAWU of being alarmist and creating panic.

The COVID19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the WHO, and thousands of people already died.

Whilst employers like MultiChoice and Discovery Health swiftly acted by sending home its non-core employees, the SABC dragged its feet.

BEMAWU wishes the employee a speedy recovery and we sincerely hope the killer virus has not been spread to other SABC employees.

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BUSINESSES THAT MUST REMAIN OPEN

Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced a countrywide lockdown, part of which is that only certain categories of businesses can remain open.

Ramaphosa said: “All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

“Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.

We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.”

According to this list, the following services will need to be maintained during the lockdown:

ESSENTIAL INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES

  1. Electricity – stable power supply with no loadshedding

Public and private organisations, their staff and service providers essential to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity will need to continue to operate.

This includes municipalities, and the suppliers of logistics, feedstock and maintenance will be required to continue to operate and provide security of electricity supply.

  1. Water supply, sewerage and sanitation

Public and private organisations, their staff and service providers essential to the security of supply of bulk and potable water and sanitation must continue to operate and provide vital water and sanitation services. This includes municipalities and those involved in the supply of materials, chemicals and related equipment.

  1. ICT – datacentres, fibre optic infrastructure, towers and antennae

We have extensively engaged with the ICT sector and are satisfied that connectivity will remain stable during this period. In this time industry collaboration will be critical to ensure that society remains connected and functional.

The ICT sector including data centres, fibre optic providers, towers and antennae will need to operate at high capacity.

The industry will collaborate and use multiple data sets to provide predictive insights into spread and impact dynamics of the crisis which will enable government and society’s ability to be proactive in measures that reduce the curve and social and economic impact of the spread. ​

Social platforms will allow our people to remain socially included and these platforms remain critical to the dissemination of accurate information.

However, our citizens are reminded that cyber security is off the utmost importance and to be vigilant to cyber criminals who will, during this time, try to exploit the public.

CRITICAL BUSINESS CONTINUITY TO SUPPORT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF SOUTH AFRICANS

  1. Food & essential products – related manufacturing and processing, and distribution

In order to ensure that people remain well-nourished and apply high personal hygiene to combat the spread of Covid-19, the following operations will continue:

Manufacturing of health related products, supplies, devices, equipment, and medicines, including complementary health products; food and essential products, as well as essential inputs thereto.

Agricultural and food supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phyto-sanitary provider services, pest control services, and chemical and fertilizer providers.

Fishing operations
Forestry and sawmills will remain in production for disposable health and hygiene products, including toilet paper; as well as for the production of packaging for essential health and food supply chains.

Food, beverages and essential products manufacturing and processing facilities
Warehousing, transport and logistics for food & essential products, and health related goods.

The Ports, road and rail networks will remain open in order to facilitate the import and export of essential products.

Food outlets – retail, wholesale, spaza shops and malls for food and essential products.

Essential products include: toilet paper, cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, personal hygiene products, bedding and clothing, and essential supplies for those taking care of the sick and in order for people to remain healthy.

  1. Enabling Services

To assist in the Covid-19 response, the following services are required to continue operations:

All healthcare related services be they public or private.

Call centres providing life and health; energy, food and water supply, social, transactional, communications, law and order and international critical business continuity services.

Professional and artisan services, to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid19 response, essential and critical business continuity services.

Cleaning, laundry and hospitality services supporting the Covid-19 response and essential and critical business continuity services.

Hotels, airlines, stadiums, car rental services, to the extent that they are supporting essential or critical business continuity services and repurposing for
Financial and insurance services and health funders required to finance and support essential and critical business continuity services in the Covid-19 response, and provide short term bridging finance to people and businesses during this period.

Anti-poaching and wildlife conservation services.
Communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online.
Safety and security services protecting people and property.

  1. Work from Home

The government encourages people to continue to remain productive and work from home. However, this must the basis that it does not require contact with people not residing in the home, and it does not interfere in any manner with the Covid-19 response.

A detailed list will be made available in due course, the statement said.

Other than the above, businesses will need to shut down during the lockdown.

Source: https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/coronavirus-lockdown-in-sa-these-are-the-businesses-that-can-operate-45431834

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Useful COVID19 Information

We will shortly address another letter to the SABC to express our grave concern about the slow pace it’s moving to reduce the risk of infecting masses of people by not allowing non-core staff to work from home, like the rest of the world. 

We are of the view the SABC is in breach of the regulations published by government to curb the spread of the virus by allowing more than a 100 people to gather at the workplace. 

If you are able to perform your work from home, please send us an email with your name and position. 

Hereunder some useful info in respect of social distancing. 

Social distancing includes several measures that can slow down the spread of COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with sick individuals.

Experts say since the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person through physically close social contacts, the best approach to prevention right now is to keep people from being in close contact as much as possible.

It’s critical that everyone practices social distancing, not just those who are sick.

As the United States experiences widespread school closures and governmental orders to close public places that attract crowds, you’re likely to hear the term “social distancing” several times a day.

Social distancing includes several measures that can slow down the spread of COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with sick individuals. If the novel coronavirus is allowed to spread, unchecked by social distancing, there might not be enough beds in intensive care units for all the people that need them.

“Social distancing is a complicated way of saying stay away from people, and the microbial residue that people might have accidentally left behind,” said Malia Jones, a social epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who studies how people’s behaviors contribute to outbreaks of infectious disease.

“Since the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person through physically close social contacts, the best approach to prevention we have right now is to keep people from being in close contact as much as possible,” she explained.

“I’ve been calling social distancing ‘cocooning’ to promote the idea that you should be at home in a safe harbor with your family,” Jones said.

It’s critical that everyone practices social distancing, not just those who are sick, Jones told Healthline. This can help vulnerable populations, like older adults, from getting the virus. Due to delays in testing and the ability for someone to have and spread COVID-19, even if they appear healthy, it’s currently impossible to know who has it.

“Social distancing is a responsibility that individuals take on to make sure they’re not the vector of disease and to break the chain of transmission,” said ​May Chu, PhD, a clinical professor in the department of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, Colorado.

We asked experts to clarify exactly how to practice social distancing in common scenarios to avoid spreading or contracting COVID-19. 

For some situations, experts have clear answers. But for others, the science isn’t yet available, so it’s responsible to err on the side of greater caution.

Overall, experts agreed the situations below were generally not essential. “All of these things, like going to the gym, riding public transportation — all of that fuels the epidemic,” Jaenisch said.

Can I schedule play dates for my kids?

“Keep your children home from school, and don’t let them mix with other kids outside your cocoon. School closures are especially important because even though children aren’t at particularly high risk for getting sick from COVID-19, they can still be carriers [and spread illness],” Jones explained.

Can I go to restaurants and bars?

Many cities already have restrictions in place. “If there’s a government request to [stop going to these establishments] for high concern, we should all follow those rules and not go. It’s not prudent,” Chu said.

“If it’s not mandated yet, but you can anticipate [the mandate] coming, I wouldn’t go just to [dine out] one more time before everything closes. If you do dine out for whatever reason, it is safest to sit outside and ensure a lot of space between. “I’d say inside is more dangerous than outside,” Jaenisch said, noting that takeout is a much safer option.

Can I visit my older parents or grandparents?

In some cases, assisting older family members is essential. But purely for a social visit, Jaenisch suggested being cautious and avoiding physical contact with older adults for at least the next few weeks.

“One of the main aims right now is to keep the elderly safe because these are the people who are most vulnerable,” and can end up with serious symptoms, he said. Call or FaceTime your family instead.

Can I go to the gym?

It’s not responsible to go to the gym right now. Gyms are often crowded, enclosed spaces where people are touching the same equipment over and over without disinfecting it. Since the virus can live on metal or plastic surfaces up to 3 days, it’s best to exercise elsewhere.

Going outside or meeting a friend for a hike, while maintaining distance, are safer activities, according to Jaenisch.

Can I have a few friends over for game night?

Only if they’re in your inner circle. Keep it to smaller circles that always interact with each other — and even better, only each other, said Jaenisch.

Can I keep dating?

Not in person. You can still message people during this time, but wait 2 to 6 weeks to meet new people in person. “Be overcautious right now,” Jaenisch said.

Stay in touch to avoid loneliness

“We’re social beings by nature. We thrive on social connectedness,” said Jenn Leiferman, PhD, director of the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center and associate professor of community and behavioral health at the Colorado School of Public Health.

“As much as social distancing is very important right now for the health and welfare of our country, it’s also very important that people still figure out ways to be connected to reduce the likelihood of social isolation and loneliness,” Leiferman said. She recommends staying connected with phone calls, video chats, and social media.

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LABOUR COURT PUNISHES ‘TRITE’ SABC ONCE AGAIN

The labour court has delivered a stern warning to the SABC to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on frivolous litigation by awarding the broadcaster a punitive provisional cost order in yet another defeat.

In a judgement delivered on 18 October 2019 the court described the SABC’s legal strategy as “overbearing” and said that “regrettably and inevitably, the taxpayer will bear the bulk of the cost”.

The matter had to do with Ms Ayanda Mkhize.

On 17 October 2018 SABC Chief Financial Officer, Ms Yolande van Biljon dismissed Mkhize without a hearing, echoing the dismissal of the SABC 8.

Mkhize referred her unfair dismissal dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), where the SABC questioned the CCMA’s jurisdiction, saying the dismissal would have needed to be challenged on lawfulness, not unfairness.

The CCMA ruled it had jurisdiction, but should it become clear during evidence it lacks jurisdiction, the matter would be referred to the appropriate forum.

The matter was set down for arbitration and the SABC brought yet another technical application before Commissioner Daniel du Plessis, who was not willing to hear it as legally he was unable to review and overturn the previous Commissioner’s ruling.

The SABC then filed a review application to set aside the ruling of the CCMA that it had jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

It is a fundamental principle that a party cannot bring a review application in the middle of an arbitration process, simply because the matter may ultimately be decided in favour of that party.

Undeterred, a few days later, the SABC brought another application, this time to stay the arbitration proceedings. The broadcaster’s legal team wanted, among other things, the labour court to direct the CCMA to hear its technical application at the CCMA.

The labour court refused to do so, making it clear it will not micro manage the CCMA or tell Commissioners how to conduct proceedings. It underscored already patently established labour law principles – an employer cannot simply rely solely on contract law to fire an employee.

The court described the SABC’s proposition as “profoundly unsound”.

Judge Andre van Niekerk said, “I find it disconcerting to have to record such a trite principle – to any labour lawyer, this is a statement of the manifestly obvious.”

BEMAWU is more concerned than ever before about the SABC’s slew of legally reckless actions. The public broadcaster continues to lose labour cases one after the other. This latest judgement should sound alarm bells for South African citizens. The SABC is on a litigation-hungry course and tax money is being used to oust employees who seemingly do not agree with positions held by the current executive – firing them without hearings.

This bullying is happening under the pretense of a clean-up, and with the executive in breach of its own governance policies.

Employees have become the targets. Benefits in existence are targeted. One dispute after the other is filed, with the SABC seemingly unfazed.

We are heading for disaster – again.

Ms Nompumelelo Phasha was dismissed in a similar manner without a hearing and has won several legal battles against the SABC, including a personal cost order against the GCEO, Madoda Mxakwe and Head of SABC Legal, Advocate Nthuthuzelo Vanara.

Former company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys was also dismissed without a hearing. Her matter is due to be heard soon.

The SABC and Mr Sandile July was represented by Werksmans Attorneys.

Advocate Kufa, instructed by Motlatsi Seleke Attorneys represented Mkhize.

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MORE BAILOUT MONEY WASTED ON LITIGATION | SABC

The SABC has been ordered to reinstate a dismissed employee and pay her compensation of almost R180 000.

Ms Sepei Shole was employed by the SABC on several consecutive contracts. The renewal of her contract came up in December 2018, and despite having full knowledge of the repetitive renewals and an undertaking by management to appoint her permanently, Human Resources decided to terminate her contract.

BEMAWU referred a dispute and the matter was arbitrated by the CCMA.

On 16 October 2019 Commissioner Zwane found in favor of the Applicant, Ms Shole ordering the SABC to appoint her permanently and pay her compensation.

BEMAWU will continue to defend its members in all unfair conduct by employers.

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Tru FM STATION MANAGER WON CASE AGAINST SABC

At least a million rand (R988 000) of the newly acquired bail-out money will be paid to an ex-employee of the SABC by order of the CCMA in the Eastern Cape.

Senior Commissioner Malusi Mbuli found the Public Broadcaster unfairly dismissed Tru FM Station Manager Thobeka Buswana late last year in October and ruled she must be compensated.

Buswana became a target for various reasons and was found guilty in a botched disciplinary hearing. Vital evidence clearing her of any misconduct were overlooked by the SABC’s internal disciplinary panel.

The CCMA strongly disagreed with the SABC’s disciplinary finding and overturned the dismissal, clearing Buswana of any wrongdoing.

Thobeka Buswana, former Tru FM Station Manager

In his arbitration award, published on 7 October 2019, Senior Commissioner Malusi Mbuli wrote:

I cannot accept the respondent’s argument that the applicant was dishonest when I compare this argument to the clear and coherent testimony of the applicant to the effect that no rule has been broken. It is not the opinion of the Senior Management or what the company thinks of what happened in relation to these incidents that should tell us whether the applicant is guilty of a transgression on a balance of probabilities, but evidence that is placed before the Commission by the applicant…”

He continued: “The employer has failed to discharge its onus in terms of section 192 of the Act in so far as the substantive issue is concerned and this means that the applicant’s dismissal was procedurally fair but substantively unfair.”

Due to the fact that Buswana’s contract expired, the CCMA was unable to order her reinstatement. Instead, compensation was ordered.

Buswana said she never had doubt the outcome at the CCMA would be different. She had faith in the CCMA and had the truth and facts on her side. Being in love with radio and her job, she would have preferred to be reinstated, but due to the SABC consistently and deliberately delaying the arbitration process, her last, one year contract expired in the course of the arbitration proceedings.

Reacting to the conduct of her superiors and the SABC during this unpleasant ordeal, Buswana said:

“I was shocked when the Acting Provincial General Manager, Mr Phumzile Mnci blatantly lied during my disciplinary hearing when he denied he approved my expenditure. We handed in documentary evidence to this effect, which clearly showed he had full knowledge of my travel, and approved it. In fact, it was approved twice by my seniors, once by him and on another occasion by his line manager. Yet the panel completely ignored this, as if they were there with a mandate and instruction to dismiss me. Fortunately Mnci was testifying under oath at the CCMA, and he knew there would have been consequences if he lied under oath, so he had to speak the truth. He told the Commissioner he approved my travel, and I attended the event with his full blessing. It’s just sad that he did not do so [speaking the truth] during the disciplinary hearing. “

She added:

‘I know for a fact that Mr Leuba Ramakgolo and Mr Mnci do not know the SABC policies, the PFMA and just the basic concept of fairness. It is such a shame to have Managers who have no clue of the guiding principles of governance leading the SABC.‘

This ruling adds to the number of cases the SABC has recently lost, at an enormous cost to the public broadcaster. It is evidence of a litigation-hungry Board and top management who recklessly spent public money in pursuit of extremely poor decisions, judgement and ill informed often questionable motives.

In as much as it is part of the duty of, for example a cameraperson to set up and focus the camera to capture high quality visuals, it is the duty of management to exercise discretion and good judgement when they institute disciplinary action and CCMA litigation against employees. When the cameraperson does not perform, there are consequences. Equally there should be consequences for poor management and decisions.

Consequence management must meet Ramakgolo and his masters, and in particular Human Resources and the legal department of the SABC, as the gatekeepers and custodians of fair disciplinary action, who instituted malicious disciplinary action against Buswana, This has resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure of almost a million rand.

This current management seems to be no different from the previous management, who has spent millions of rands – public money – on fruitless litigation.

Buswana was represented by the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union, BEMAWU.

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Broke SABC slammed for incurring R5.2bn in irregular expenditure

The auditor-general has blasted the SABC for not taking appropriate steps to prevent irregular expenditure and for failing to bring  those responsible for the financial mess to book, BusinessLIVE reported.

The broke public broadcaster was slapped with a qualified audit opinion for the 2018/2019 financial year. It received a disclaimer the previous financial year, which is the worst possible audit outcome.

The SABC’s annual report tabled in parliament on Monday shows that the broadcaster incurred irregular expenditure of R5.2bn, up from R4.9bn the previous year. This as it continues to face an uncertain future due to crippling financial challenges.

In the annual report, auditor-general Kimi Makwetu raised doubt about the broadcaster’s status as a going concern, noting that it is still not able to generate sufficient cash to meet all of its financial obligations. The entity’s current liabilities exceed its current assets by R875m, said Makwetu.

The SABC ended the 2018/2019 financial year with an audited loss of R482m. Losses have decreased over the past number of years – from R1bn in 2016/2017 to R744m in 2017/2018. But indications are that it will continue to record losses for the foreseeable future after posting a R192.3m loss in the first quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year.

The broadcaster ended the 2018/2019 financial year with a cash balance of R72m. Total revenue was R6.45bn, which was R1bn (14%) below the budget of R7.48bn.

As it stands, the SABC is technically insolvent. Its dwindling revenue means it is unable to service its debt of almost R2bn and it could be forced to switch off its cameras and microphones.

The dire financial position means that it is struggling to invest in content and to acquire crucial sports rights. It confirmed that it would not broadcast the Rugby World Cup on television, though it managed to strike a last-minute deal to broadcast four of the Springboks’ games on radio, as well as the two semifinals. ​

It has requested a R3.2bn government guarantee to stay afloat and pay off some of its debt, but its bid for funding has so far been unsuccessful – largely due to its failure to meet the Treasury’s conditions.

Makwetu said effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure, as required by the Public Finance Management Act. He said the full extent of the irregular expenditure could not be quantified.

Most of the irregular expenditure disclosed in the financial statements was caused by competitive bidding process not having been followed. Disciplinary steps were not taken against the officials who had incurred and/or permitted irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, as required by the act, said Makwetu.

Also, effective and appropriate steps were not taken to collect all TV licence revenue due, as required by the act.

Advertising revenue, the SABC’s biggest revenue generator, decreased in the past year by R241m (5%), a key factor preventing the public entity’s profitability. This revenue, which amounted to R4.5bn, makes up 70% of total revenue.

TV licence fees reported for the year amounted to R968m. This represents a “fee evasion rate of 69% [compared to 72% in 2018] of the known TV licence holders not paying their licence fees”, the public broadcaster said in the report.

SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini said in the report that damaging governance, maladministration and funding challenges faced by the public broadcaster over decades have hollowed out the institution, “making it tougher and tougher to play to our strengths”.

“The SABC’s financial position has remained under severe pressure, with the corporation still paying the price for years of compromised leadership, failed governance and prejudicial decision-making,” said Makhathini.

He said the SABC is unable to “simply shake off the damage caused without financial assistance by the government”.

Source : https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2019-10-01-broke-sabc-slammed-for-incurring-r52bn-in-irregular-expenditure/

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SABC BAILOUT CONDITIONS

What conditions the SABC have to meet

According to Board Chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini the public broadcaster has met 10 of the 11 preconditions that were set out by National Treasury in overseeing the R3.2-billion bailout that SABC applied for.

In order to comply with the conditions, SABC had to:

  • determine their immediate cash requirements, supported by detailed cash flow projections for the next 12 to 18 months;
  • submit a list of identified initiatives for revenue enhancement and cost-cutting initiatives that the entity has been implementing in the interim;
  • conduct a thorough investigation into what caused the financial collapse of the SABC and why previous turn-around plans have failed to be successfully implemented;
  • provide an update on how the entity is dealing with the people implicated in reports;
  • produce separate financial reporting for their public and commercial broadcasting services;
  • identify non-core assets for sale to assist with reducing the recapitalization required by government. Submit a comprehensive property strategy and a list of non-core assets identified for disposal including the timelines for disposal and the estimated values.
  • commit and start a full review of policies, legislation and regulations affecting the Broadcasting sector and the SABC within a digital environment;
  • develop a comprehensive Private Sector Participation strategy highlighting initiatives to be implemented and the net values to be derived from these partnerships;
  • develop a comprehensive capital and content investment plan which includes the forecast return on investment of all Capex and content spend, split between commercial and developmental activities;
  • appoint a restructuring team headed by a restructuring officer and supported by Broadcasting industry experts to lead a restructuring and turnaround of the entity; and
  • appoint a new Board.
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RIGHTS TO RUGBY WORLD CUP MATCHES ‘NOT COMMERCIALLY VIABLE’ FOR SABC

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board has told Parliament that its decision not to buy the rights to broadcast the Rugby World Cup was because it was simply not commercially viable.

https://ewn.co.za/2019/09/17/rights-to-rugby-world-cup-matches-not-commercially-viable-for-sabc

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SABC PUSHING AHEAD TO INCREASE TV LICENSE FEES

The SABC is pushing ahead with plans to lobby the government to increase TV licence fees as it battles to boost revenue.

Executives at the cash-strapped public broadcaster told MPs on Tuesday that the current TV licence tariff of R265 per year, which translates to about 72c a day, had remained unchanged since 2013. SABC board chair Bongumusa Makhathini said he believed more South Africans could afford to pay at least R1 a day, a remark that prompted objections from various MPs.

“We have 10-million people unemployed … it is incorrect to say the TV licence [fee] is cheap,” said one MP.

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2019-09-17-sabc-goes-ahead-with-plans-to-lift-tv-licence-fees-despite-objections/