07/06/2017 07:48 SAST | Updated 07/06/2017 07:48 SAST

Communications Department Foots R1M Bill For Gupta Breakfast

But The New Age breakfast briefing is a drop in the ocean compared with the SABC's R733M New Age newspaper subscription.

Jay Phil Dangeros / EyeEm via Getty Images

The communications department spent nearly R1 million on a breakfast briefing for the Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper

The briefing, held on May 26 2016, cost R958,689, Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said in a reply to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.

The party wanted to know how much her department spent on "promotional events organised by a certain newspaper", referring to The New Age (TNA).

"It is not a secret the Gupta-owned TNA is propped up by the millions it receives from government departments and state-owned companies that sponsor its breakfast briefings, buy in bulk copies of its newspaper and spend disproportionally on adverts in the newspaper," DA MP and communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said on Tuesday.

She cited further examples: The R733 million the SABC spent on TNA subscriptions between May 1 2014 and March 2016; the R4 million the Free State government spent on advertising in the TNA in 2016; and the almost R10 million government spent on TNA advertising in 2015.

"Over the last few months, it has become patently clear that not only TNA, but also ANN7, are nothing more than Gupta and pro-Zuma propaganda mouthpieces, surviving on the hard-earned rand of South Africa's taxpayers. It is no longer conscionable to fund this propaganda," she said.

Confidential information

She warned South Africans not to fall prey to "fake Gupta news" and propaganda.

"Since the leak of thousands of emails between the Guptas and their associates, which have implicated them in state capture, the family's TNA and ANN7 broadcaster has done everything to distract the public from the truth.

They have attacked everyone who has spoken out against the Gupta capture of the ANC," said Van Damme.

She called for an end to government funding of ANN7 and TNA, to end their "propaganda campaign".

The ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board heard testimony that the public broadcaster paid up to R1 million for TNA breakfasts, thereby bankrolling their competitors, ANN7.

Business Day reported last week that the cash-strapped public broadcaster's interim board wanted to cancel the TNA deal.

The department's expenditure took place when Faith Muthambi was still communications minister. The ad hoc committee found her incompetent. She intended asking a court to review its report, which the National Assembly adopted.

The leaked Gupta emails show that Muthambi provided confidential information from Cabinet meetings to the Guptas. She was moved to the public service and administration portfolio in March.

According to the emails, Gupta-owned Sahara Computers paid for a trip to Dubai for Dlodlo.- News24