Agriculture dept forks out millions to Gupta media

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Tina Joemat-Pettersson
Tina Joemat-Pettersson

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries paid millions of rands to the Guptas’ media companies between 2011 and 2015. 

The bulk of this amount – about R3.38 million – was paid out when Tina Joemat-Pettersson was minister. This included an amount of more than R300 000 for coverage of her budget speech. Joemat-Pettersson is currently minister of energy. 

During the term of her successor, Senzeni Zokwana, only R36 265.79 ended up in the bank accounts of the Guptas family’s media companies. 

This was revealed in written parliamentary replies from the ministry to questions from the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF asked the minister whether senior officials had done business with to “certain persons” – referring to Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta and Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son – and how much money they had paid to Gupta businesses. These include TNA Media, The New Age newspaper and Vusizwe Media, which publishes the magazine The Thinker. 

Ajay Gupta is Vusizwe Media’s non-executive chairperson. The Thinker editor is Essop Pahad, who was minister in the presidency during former president Thabo Mbeki’s tenure. 

According to Zokwana’s answer, the following amounts were paid during Joemat-Pettersson’s term: 

  • June 29 2011: R69 365.80 to Vusizwe Media (The Thinker) for an advertisement of the minister’s response to questions; 
  • June 11 2012: R309 277.44 to TNA media for coverage of the minister’s budget vote speech; 
  • October 22 2012: R3 961.50 to TNA Media for five delegates’ attendance at a business briefing; 
  • December 20 2012: R178 267.50 to TNA Media for 250 delegates to attend The New Age and SABC2’s business breakfast, at which the minister and her deputy were chief speakers; 
  • December 20 2012: R647 054,88 to TNA Media for an awareness campaign for World Food Day; 
  • November 14 2013: R39 888.60 to Vusizwe Media for an advertisement in The Thinker; and 
  • October 31 2013: R842 886.36 to TNA Media for coverage in The New Age of the minister’s media briefing on SABC2’s Morning Live on female farming farmer entrepreneur Awards; 

During Zokwana’s term the following was paid: 

  • February 11 2015: R9 950 to TNA Media for a business briefing; and 
  • February 15 2016: R26 315.79 to TNA Media for a business briefing. 

Zokwana did not answer whether he, his predecessor or any of the department’s officials met with “certain persons”.

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