MultiChoice not shy about sponsorship at #ANC54

Johannesburg – When you walk through the exhibition hall on the way to the Progressive Business Forum at the ANC's national conference, you can’t miss the double-storey MultiChoice stand with its colourful multimedia displays.

Despite being implicated in the #GuptaLeaks, the video entertainment and internet company isn't keeping a low profile about its sponsorship at the ANC conference.

MultiChoice sponsored Friday night's gala dinner and Monday morning's Progressive Business Forum breakfast, where Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu addressed guests.

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela, who was appointed in November, would not be drawn into commenting on an internal probe being conducted after it emerged in the #GuptaLeaks that the company paid then Gupta-owned TV channel ANN7 millions, allegedly to influence South Africa's long-stalled digital migration switch from analogue to digital TV.

MultiChoice in a previous statement said that it instructed its audit and risk committees to assess whether there were any corporate governance failures in the ANN7 deal, and report back to its board. "Based on what is contained in that report, the MultiChoice board will take the necessary action," it said in early November.

Mawela did, however, speak out against corruption within the private sector.

“Corruption is corruption, everybody needs to steer away from corruption and there are law enforcement agencies that have to deal with corruption and it should be discouraged at all levels, big business, government, everywhere,” he told Fin24.

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela talks about private sector corruption (Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

In a video that was aired during the breakfast, MultiChoice punted its role in developing small business in the country. The company said it is committed to sharing its success, changing lives and economic transformation.

But during the session a question was raised by a small business owner about the limited access to funding and support from big players like MultiChoice. In response, Mawela said the company is open to discussions about increasing its contribution to developing small businesses.

“We recognise the value they are bringing to the economy. We are open to having discussions; if there’s hiccups along the way, we are willing to engage with them and see if we can assist them,” he said.

The company currently spends R3.3bn on small, medium and micro-sized enterprises across the value chain of paid television, from content production up until the final product on television, Mawela said.

He further thanked the Progressive Business Forum for creating a platform to engage with other businesses to allow input on how to foster economic growth in the country.

“Partnership between business and government must continue to thrive, especially in terms of small business development,” Mawela added in closing.


The MultiChoice stand at the business exhibition hall at Nasrec. (Photo: Tehillah Niselow).

* News24 and Fin24 are published by Media24. Both Media24 and MultiChoice are Naspers companies.

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