From the ed­i­tor

Finweek English Edition - - Contents - ANNELI GROENEWALD

at fin­week we of­ten write about un­em­ploy­ment. We write about the coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment lev­els and how dev­as­tat­ing it is for the econ­omy, and for its ci­ti­zens, when 6.2m peo­ple are sit­ting at home – un­able to find jobs. When spe­cific sec­tors ex­pe­ri­ence job losses, or spe­cific com­pa­nies an­nounce planned re­trench­ments, we write about it. About the im­pact it will have on those com­mu­ni­ties, and how it will trickle through to other el­e­ments of life. We write about what it means for that spe­cific sec­tor as a whole, and how it will im­pact other sec­tors.

But news is al­ways slightly harder to swal­low when it hits close to home. As it did for me as a jour­nal­ist when, at the end of Oc­to­ber, the SABC an­nounced that, “should re­trench­ments be nec­es­sary”, it ex­pects to re­trench 981 em­ploy­ees. That is a very spe­cific num­ber. So spe­cific that the cyn­i­cal would say a list with 981 names on it al­ready ex­ists. But let’s not be cyn­i­cal. The SABC also ex­pected that 1 200 free­lancers (out of 2 400) would be af­fected.

Ev­ery­body in the me­dia in­dus­try (and prob­a­bly also most peo­ple out­side of it) would be very aware of the fact that this in­dus­try has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing tough times for at least a decade. News­rooms in the coun­try that have not gone through the feared “Sec­tion 189” process over the last ten years, could prob­a­bly be counted on one hand.

Don’t get me wrong: As a South African, I have been equally frus­trated by the dis­as­trous ef­fects of years of mis­man­age­ment at the pub­lic broad­caster. And, of course, the dire fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion at the SABC has to be ad­dressed.

But what I find even more frus­trat­ing is that 2 181 em­ploy­ees now find them­selves in a po­si­tion of very real job un­cer­tainty. Should the re­trench­ments be­come a re­al­ity, they will be join­ing the hun­dreds of jour­nal­ists and other me­dia pro­fes­sion­als who have al­ready been pushed out of the in­dus­try through countless rounds of re­trench­ments in re­cent years.

Very soon, I fear, there will be very few of us left to write about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of un­em­ploy­ment, about top-level cor­rup­tion at state-owned en­ter­prises, about state cap­ture, about op­por­tu­ni­ties lost. ■

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