Can this country afford to let these pillars collapse?
The SABC is expected to report a loss of R1 billion when its annual accounts to the end of March this year are published.
Picture: Gallo Images/Daily Sun/Morapedi Mashashe
The demise of our state-owned enterprises gets many a taxpayer hot under the collar – but the ones who make blood pressure spike the most are South African Airways (SAA), the SA Post Office (Sapo) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
While the department of public enterprises is doing financial gymnastics to save SAA, Sapo and SABC look to be on the same downward spiral as the national airline was. The Post Office has been placed under business rescue and the national broadcaster is reported to be not far off going the same way.
In the case of Sapo, by putting the entity into business rescue, the government paved the way for an injection of R2.4 billion to bail it out.
The SABC is expected to report a loss of R1 billion when its annual accounts to the end of March this year are published. Whether more taxpayer money will be used to keep the broadcaster afloat remains to be seen, although the government has already said it is reluctant to do this.
The hard question then needs to be asked: while the institutions can be saved by throwing money at them, should we be doing so… or should we just let them collapse and be tossed into the dustbin of history?
There is no doubt that both organisations fulfil a worthwhile role in society – no matter the claims by detractors. Both have been hurt by cadre deployment and revenue problems. But both are needed so that ordinary – read poor – people can have access to the services they provide, at affordable rates. Both, one could argue, are vital for democracy.
The Post Office network enables payment of life-saving grants and the SABC provides news from all over the country – content not stifled by monetary considerations. Can this country afford to let these pillars collapse?