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16 April 2009

Meeting with Deputy Minister of Communications, Roy Padayachie and Deputy Director General for Finance and ICT Development, Harry Mathabathe

Dear DFA Member, for those that don't know the DFA has in the past engaged with, and continues to engage with and support SOS (The Save our SABC Campaign). SASFED represents DFA in the ongoing work SOS does. The below an initial report from an important meeting held at the Department of Communications of yesterday!

SOS was represented by Kate Skinner (SOS Coordinator), Patrick Craven (COSATU), Vulture Ntuluki (Communications Workers Union), Rehad Desai (SASFED), Jane Duncan (FXI) and Siphiwe Segodi (FXN)

A number of key issues were covered in the meeting including the following:
o   Who the Coalition is and what its purpose is
o   Our understanding of the nature of the crisis at the SABC
o   Our positions on the way forward
o   Our positions on how the policy and legislative process should unfold
The SOS coordinator, Kate Skinner presented a Coalition memo to the Deputy President. (Please find doc attached.) The memo outlines the Coalition’s understanding of the roots of the crisis and the way forward. She outlined that in the immediate term issues around the Board need to be sorted and that the financial crisis was a symptom of the breakdown in leadership at the SABC. In the medium to long term new legislation needed to be drafted. New legislation will hopefully deal with the vision and mission of the SABC (Charter issues), legal structure, governance and oversight structures, and finances.
Union members talked about the importance of saving jobs at the SABC and not following the route of retrenchments to solve the SABC’s financial woes.
The Deputy Minister expressed significant interest in the ideas contained in our civil society discussion document. In particular he was interested in SOS’s ideas on the SABC’s Charter. Jane Duncan suggested that it would be important to do a roadshow to get public buy-in to a new vision for the SABC. Either the Department of Communications or the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications could spearhead this initiative.
Some discussion was held about the finances of the SABC and some of the initial models that SOS has been developing. We however stated that this was only the beginning of the discussion and that a significant amount of research still needed to be done.
In terms of a way forward the Deputy Minister outlined the following three stages:
o   The immediate term – The need to sort out the SABC’s Board and finances
o   The short to medium term – Working on the policy and legislation
o   The medium term – the process of law making
The Deputy Minister said that he felt that it would be beneficial to develop a partnership with SOS in terms of all three stages. SOS members agreed to hold discussions with broader membership to look at what a partnership with the Department might look like. SOS has promised to come back to the Deputy Minister with proposals.
Compiled by Kate Skinner, 15 April 2009

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