Department spent close to R1m on single Gupta-sponsored breakfast

Cape Town – The Department of Communications spent close to R1m on a single breakfast business briefing sponsored by Gupta-owned The New Age on SABC in 2016.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said in a parliamentary written reply on Tuesday that her department “spent R958 689.84 on a business briefing held on 26 May 2016, which was organised by the newspaper in question”.

The payment was made when Faith Muthambi was still at the helm of the department.

Responding to the revelation, Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile Van Damme said in a statement that “it is not a secret the Gupta-owned TNA (The New Age) 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”.

She said the Free State provincial government spent over R4m on The New Age, as revealed by the Nielsen report released earlier this year; last year; the SABC spent almost R1m on subscriptions to The New Age; and in 2015, the communications department spent R10m on advertising in the same paper.

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

“It is time to stop all funding of ANN7 and The New Age, to put a stop to the Guptas propaganda campaign,” she said.