The financial woes at the SABC have taken a new turn after one of the
eight catering canteens was forced to close because the public
broadcaster could not keep paying its bills, writes Thabiso Thakali in the Cape Argus.

The owner of the Next Hot Thing, also known on the broadcaster's corridors as NHT canteen, gave notice to the SABC last week of his intention to close shop after providing on-site catering for several staff functions without ever being paid.

Three weeks ago, the broadcaster announced it had put a freeze on vacant posts and hiring of more staff because of its R784 million budget deficit. As part of the cost-cutting exercise the SABC started cutting tea, coffee, and sugar and milk supplies to its low-level staff.

But after the Saturday Star, sister paper of Weekend Argus, reported on this last week, the management issued departments with a six-pack of milk, a tin of coffee and a packet of tea.

Even producers of some current affairs programmes were left frustrated this month after their usual airtime subsidy from the broadcaster was apparently not paid.

A source said they were using money out of their own pockets to buy airtime for making business calls which had not been the case before.

The furious owner of NHT, Ryan Donald, said this week that the broadcaster owed him R300 000 which it had failed to pay since February.

"We are unable to pay our staff their salaries because they (the SABC) have been prolonging payments in recent months," he said.

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