Converting freelance workers to permanent positions is not an expansion of staff, the SABC claimed on Thursday (10 January).
"Freelancers are working for the SABC; converting them to permanent staff does not increase the number," spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said.
He was responding to a claim by the Democratic Alliance that acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng might have acted in contravention of the public loan agreement with the national treasury that underpins the public broadcaster's vital turnaround, when he instructed that freelancers should be converted to permanent staff.
"One of the terms of the strategy to turn around the debt and corruption ridden corporation is a significant reduction in head count, not an expansion of staff," said Marian Shinn, the DA's spokesman on communication.
Shinn said at the SABC's last report back to the portfolio committee on communications last year, it was evident that SABC management was deliberately stalling the reduction of staff.
Kganyago said he was not aware of the loan agreement that the DA referred to.
"They should write to the SABC rather than issuing statements," he said.
Shinn said she would write to the chairman of the SABC Board, Ben Ngubane, to ascertain whether the board approved of Motsoeneng's action to convert freelancers to permanent staff and if so, under what conditions.
"If this was a unilateral decision by Motsoeneng I would like Ngubane to publicly explain what action will be taken against him," she added.
The Star reported on Thursday (10 January) that Motsoeneng issued an internal instruction in November last year, to convert freelancers into full-time employees.
He also threatened "consequences" if SABC management and the human resources staff did not find the necessary millions of rands within the budget to implement this conversion within the current financial year.
Motsoeneng also apparently ignored the protests against this staff expansion move by the SABC's acting chief financial officer, Tian Olivier.
Motsoeneng told the newspaper that it was necessary to end the abuse of freelancers, comply with the law and retain skills.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called on the public broadcaster to reduce its staffing complement and cut costs as it continues to service the R1bn bailout granted by a private bank in 2009, after the treasury signed sureties to save the SABC from its R800m deficit.
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