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Loyiso Sidimba, City Press
- Three of the country’s biggest state-owned companies are paying millions of
rands to bankroll business breakfasts hosted by President Jacob Zuma’s close
friends, the Gupta family.The
Guptas, who own The New Age newspaper, have been hosting speakers like Zuma,
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba for
publicly broadcast interviews.City
Press can reveal that:- Transnet
forked out R17.5m for 18 breakfast sessions;- Eskom
paid R7.2m to sponsor six sessions (at R1.2m each) between November 2011 and
last year; and- The
SABC doesn’t charge The New Age a cent to broadcast their breakfasts live on
previously reported that Telkom sponsored 12 business breakfasts to the tune of
R12m in the 2012/13 financial year.The
revelation comes in the same week the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa)
held public hearings into Eskom’s proposed 16% tariff hike.Eskom’s sponsorship
for The New Age breakfasts was paid from its 49M energy-efficiency initiative
family spokesperson Gary Naidoo said he found it “very strange and unethical”
that City Press focused on their clients.“These
same clients appear in your newspaper and it would seem your questions are
driven by the fear of losing market share.Chilling effect“It would
seem that your motive is one of finding a mechanism to place a ‘chilling
effect’ on those clients who have bought into our vision of being proudly
South African, and fiercely independent through the publication of news in a
multimillion-rand sponsorships were revealed by Gigaba in response to a
parliamentary question by DA MP Kenneth Mubu.Mubu said
the newspaper was an “ANC Gazette”, and Transnet and Eskom’s dealings with it
compromised the government’s image.“The New
Age’s owners have a very close and cosy relationship with President Zuma,” Mubu
it was wrong for government to sponsor the newspaper’s business breakfasts.Official circulation unknownZuma is a
family friend of the Guptas and his son Duduzane serves on at least nine boards
with members of the Gupta family, including Sahara Holdings and Shiva Uranium.One of
Zuma’s wives, Bongi Ngema, is the communications and marketing head at the
Guptas’ JIC Mining Services.The Mail
& Guardian reported in November that there were “three sets of Gupta
fingerprints” on a R3.8m bond registered on Ngema’s Waterkloof Ridge property.The New
Age’s official circulation is unknown as the paper is yet to register with the
Audit Bureau of Circulations. ABC
vice-president Gordon Patterson estimated last year, in a report by the Daily
Maverick, that the paper sold between 7 800 and 13 000 copies a day.Both
Transnet and Eskom defended their sponsorships of the breakfasts this week.Millions spentTransnet
received a proposal, which it says was considered through the company’s normal
channels, according to spokesperson Mboniso Sigonyela.
Hilary Joffe said the decision to sponsor the briefings was reached after
mutual discussion over a period of time.
and Eskom claim the 24 sessions they sponsor “encourage thought leadership,
highlight the need to conserve electricity and build their brands”.Transnet
has also spent more than R8.5m on advertising with The New Age between October
2011 and November last year, according to documents in City Press’ possession.Eskom has
spent about R4.4m on advertising with The New Age between December 2010 and
October last year.
said Transnet saw the breakfasts as a branding opportunity in the newspaper and
said the main benefit for Eskom and its shareholder was brand awareness and
highlighting the need to conserve electricity.“We did
not pay the SABC for the Morning Live broadcasts. This was one of the benefits
of the sponsorships,” Joffe said.In
October, the Sunday Times reported the 45-minute briefings were broadcast for
free, when the SABC normally charged R18 000 for 30 seconds on the programme.Two
inside sources confirmed to City Press that the newspaper did not pay for their
SABC TV slots.Not freeSABC
spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, however, said the broadcasts were not for free.“The
agreement between the SABC and The New Age is a win-win agreement as we get
content that helps us inform the public.”Naidoo
said other newspapers were jealous of their success.“We know
that our loyal partners will see through this bullying by competitors and
continue their support of our newspaper.”He didn’t
deny that the SABC gave them free publicity.“Using
the cover of journalism to understand our model is not the way we choose to do
business and we would urge yourselves to consider the ethics of your approach.”
The value of a property owned by the Gupta family in Johannesburg has dropped from R16.8m to R490 000, according to the latest municipal valuation - lower than the price it was sold for in 1994, a report says.
Six people have been arrested for murder and rape in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal police say.
A second top oncologist has quit in the wake of the KwaZulu-Natal health department's failure to keep two state-of-the-art radiotherapy machines operational at Durban's Addington Hospital, a report says.
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