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SABC a reflection of ANC and government ambiguity - Carol Paton

24 November 2020 6:56 PM
Tags:
SACP
Cosatu
SABC
Business Day
President Cyril Ramaphosa
retrenchments
Carol Paton

Journalist says the question for Ramaphosa will be if he can't do it at the broadcaster, can he do it in the rest of the economy?

According to an article by Business Day journalist Carol Paton, the fight over the restructuring of the SABC, as insignificant as it is in the bigger picture of SA’s unemployment and fiscal crisis, has the potential to go nuclear on President Cyril Ramaphosa.

It has split his Cabinet and his political party, and the most important ANC allies — the SACP and Cosatu — have abandoned him and joined the other side.

We have Paton on the line to tell us more.

Ramaphosa has promised the world, the country that he is going to bring about economic reforms and that these reforms are really at the heart of getting the economy and public finances right. And one of those things is public enterprises, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the fact that they have been such a drain on the fiscus.

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

And here is the challenge for him: Can he make the SABC sustainable? Can he cut the wage bill? Can he make it a sustainable organisation? Which, of course, can be done but the political opposition to doing that is turning out to be enormous, even from his own ministers. The issue is then if he can't do it at the SABC, can he do it in the rest of the economy?

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

What is the role of Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams?

What always confounds the ANC and government is the policy ambiguity ... There comes a time when the ambiguity can't be managed anymore. The government's reconstruction and recovery plan, the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the growth policy document that [Finance Minister] Tito Mboweni tabled last year, all those things say we can match to sustainable public enterprises so one would imagine if that is a Cabinet policy. But has Cabinet ever sat down and say we commit to sustainable SEOs? And that includes downscaling the SABC.

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

If they haven't actually said that, then is Stella just taking a gap or is she going against the president? It's a grey area and I think that's what's possibly being exploited here, typical of the way the ANC and government manage the economy.

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

On whether they do that deliberately so there is an exit on things that might prove to be unpopular or whether they are not entirely sure what they are doing, Paton says it is, in fact, the third option.

They don't agree. Not everyone agrees. So the best way if you're in any situation where you're passing a policy document or you're agreeing to a solution or something, you just fudge it so both sides will reach some sort of thing where everyone - sometimes more than two sides - feel they can live with that. They decide to wait for another day when the actual issue comes to the fore. I think that's how they do it. There are many examples.

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

Business keeps on saying please can we have policy certainty.

Carol Paton, Editor-at-large - Business Day

Listen below for the full interview...




24 November 2020 6:56 PM
Tags:
SACP
Cosatu
SABC
Business Day
President Cyril Ramaphosa
retrenchments
Carol Paton