Zuma link to new daily

2010-07-07 00:00

DESPITE sharing the same name as the pro-ANC New Age newspaper that was banned by the apartheid government in the 1960s, the owners of the new daily newspaper with a similar name have emphasised that their newspaper will be independent.

Johannesburg-based daily Business Day quoted one of the people behind the re-establishment of the New Age, Essop Pahad, as denying emphatically that the newspaper will be affiliated to the ruling party.

The newspaper is going to be financed by the Gupta Group, which is closely linked to President Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

Pahad, who also publishes the magazine The Thinker, which is also bankrolled by the Guptas, reportedly said the New Age “is not, and will not be, affliated to the ANC”.

Pahad said the newspaper will be launched in September and will target the middle to top end of the market.

It is expected to be based in Gauteng and will have correspondents in other strategic provinces.

The former political editor of the state broadcasting corporation, the SABC and Ithala Bank publicity officer Vuyo Mvoko, confirmed that he will be the new editor of the newspaper.

He declined to give more information about the editorial framework of the newspaper.

“I do not answer any questions pertaining to that matter.

“I believe what was said by Essop Pahad around this issue is enough for the time being,” Mvoko told The Witness last night.

According to information from the Internet, the New Age was a leftist newspaper that operated in Johannesburg and had ties with the ANC as most of its contributors were party activists at the time.

Among them were Govan Mbeki, Rusty Benstein, Walter Sisulu, Albie Sachs, Ahmed Kathrada and Ruth First.

The paper became a leading voice in the struggle against apartheid, especially in the 1940s, and as a result of its close ties to the ANC, it was banned twice, in 1952 and 1954.

Each time it got a banning order, the publication would appear under a new name, and New Age was one of these.

After the state of emergency was declared in 1960 and the activists were banned or jailed or in exile, the paper’s circulation was stopped for about five months.

This was a first for the newspaper as it has always managed to publish its usual weekly edition, banned or not.

When the ANC was banned, the move affected the newspaper’s correspondents, and after the Sharpeville massacre, New Age reporters were regularly being detained.

Financial strains, however, led to the end of the publication, when it was banned again in 1962.

Business Day said the daily newspaper market in SA is extremely competitive following the 2004 closure of ThisDay after just a year of operation and Nova’s demise just after five months in 2006.

More recently, newspapers have been hit hard by declining advertising revenue during the recession as the government and the private sector reduced spending on advertising.

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