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Johannesburg - The African National Congress on Wednesday said it supported the role played by The New Age (TNA) business breakfast sessions.
“The New Age/SABC breakfast sessions are an innovative and important private initiative in strengthening our democracy by ensuring an informed citizenry,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
“The African National Congress is encouraged and fully supports the role of The New Age and SABC breakfast sessions in providing an unmediated and uncensored platform for public engagement by government, public sector entities and other entities... informing and accessing millions of South Africans instantly.”
The fact that TNA could reach millions of people seemed to be the Democratic Alliance's gripe, said Mthembu.
The past week has seen TNA and DA leader Helen Zille clashing head on.
Last week, Zille pulled out of a business breakfast, saying she did not know it was sponsored using public funds.
City Press reported that some of the biggest state-owned companies were paying millions to bankroll the breakfasts, hosted by the Gupta family.
The newspaper responded by uploading a video of Zille thanking Telkom for sponsoring a TNA breakfast she attended.
Zille on Wednesday said TNA heavyweights tried to dissuade the DA from asking parliamentary questions on the paper's funding.
The newspaper denied the claim.
Zille said she had written to President Jacob Zuma asking for a commission of inquiry to be appointed to probe the funding of the newspaper.
Mthembu said the DA was against informed citizenry and the public entities that kept them informed.
“We (ANC) also want to acknowledge the role played by state owned entities in ensuring that a constant and predictable platform exists to showcase government work, and to facilitate a process that will ensure that the public is informed continuously.”
He said the DA had also used the same platform to communicate with the public.
“She (Zille) has embarked on a campaign against The New Age to divert attention from her lies.”
Mthembu also denied that the newspaper was a conduit to raise money for the ANC.
“There has been no underhand or secret sponsorship for the TNA/SABC breakfast sessions, nor has there been secret ads by government departments on TNA. These were openly reported on in the South African Parliament,” he said. - Sapa