01/12/2017 05:48 SAST | Updated 01/12/2017 05:48 SAST

MultiChoice, Muthambi Must Face State Capture Probe -- DA

"This is very serious indeed, and Icasa must exercise the very broad powers the Icasa Act gives it to investigate this," said DA MP Phumzile van Damme.

The DA wants an inquiry into allegations of state capture relating to MultiChoice and Faith Muthambi during her time as communications minister.

Delivering a declaration on the Portfolio Committee on Communications' report on the appointment of Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) board members in the National Assembly on Thursday, DA MP Phumzile van Damme said it was Icasa's "duty to take this matter up in the public interest, and in particular, on behalf of those who use the very little they earn to fork our subscription fees for DStv".

She referred to the SABC board's minutes of June 6, 2013, which she revealed on Wednesday.

She said the minutes suggested "that MultiChoice sought to pay the SABC R100m a year for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for the public broadcaster's political influence over digital migration".

"This notion has since been confirmed by the former minister of communications, Yunus Carrim, who is quoted in the media today (Thursday) stating that: '...MultiChoice was seeking to change government policy to serve its own interests', and he '...felt it wrong for a private company to seek to buy government policy in this way so that it could retain its 98% dominance of the pay-TV sector'," she said.

This is very serious indeed, and Icasa must exercise the very broad powers the Icasa Act gives it to investigate this.

"In addition, it is important for us in Parliament to do the same."

No progress in state capture investigation

She said the communications committee must discharge its duty to conduct an inquiry into allegations of state capture relating to Muthambi, who is now minister of public service and administration, as requested by the Deputy Speaker.

On August 22 the committee's chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana informed the committee that he had received a letter from Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, informing the committee that it had to investigate state capture.

Since then, the committee, which has had a very busy schedule in the past few months, hasn't made much progress in this regard.

Van Damme wants the inquiry to summon the following people:

Former communications ministers Muthambi, Carrim and Dina Pule; Former CEO of MultiChoice Imtiaz Patel; MultiChoice's executive chairperson Nolo Letele; Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk; Former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala; and Former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo.

Also on Thursday, MultiChoice denied any wrongdoing in a statement which described the company's conduct as "just normal commercial negotiation".

Van Dijk in an interview with Moneyweb said Naspers took the allegations against MultiChoice "seriously", but that the responsibility for dealing with the allegations lay with the MultiChoice board.

Van Dijk serves on MultiChoice's board, according to the company's website, which wasn't mentioned in the Moneyweb interview.

This is not the first time MultiChoice's dealings with the SABC have caused controversy, as the deal often reared its head in the work of the ad hoc committee that investigated the former SABC board.

This committee found Muthambi to be "incompetent" as communications minister and recommended that the MultiChoice deal was one of the "questionable contracts" that should be investigated.

• HuffPost SA and News24 are both published by Media24. Both Media24 and MultiChoice are Naspers companies.

-- News24