Johannesburg - The Auditor General (AG) should investigate how state-owned entities spent millions of rand advertising in The New Age (TNA), the DA said on Monday.
Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane said he would seek a meeting with AG Terence Nombembe to discuss how TNA had benefited from the government.
“We need an investigation to determine why government chose to spend so much money on a newspaper that is read by an uncertified number of people,” he said.
Maimane said the extent of the government subsidising of TNA had taken larger proportions than expected.
“Together with the spending on advertising during 2011, and the millions in sponsorships for New Age business breakfasts, it is conceivable that as much as R200 million has been spent on TNA by government since its 1/8the newspaper's 3/8 inception.”
He said Nombembe should determine whether advertising in publications without Audit Bureau of Circulation certificates constituted a breach of the Public Financial Management Act.
Earlier, TNA CEO Nazeem Howa hit back at a City Press report that state-owned Telkom was its top advertiser.
“It's similar to the patronising and racist mindset of some of opposition politicians who imply that the senior executives like Pinky Moholi at Telkom, Brian Molefe at Transnet, Brian Dames at Eskom and others who run parastatals don't know what they are doing and do not apply their minds when they spend their budgets,” Howa was quoted as saying.
“By implication, City Press is saying these CEOs and their management teams are incompetent and corrupt.
“In my view, City Press's story is part of an ongoing and sustained narrative that says since black people (read the ANC) have taken over the running of our government, major corporations and parastatals, those involved are inherently corrupt.”
The City Press reported on Sunday that Telkom had spent R34m on advertising in TNA from December 2011 to November 2012.
According to the newspaper, the most recent Nielsen Adex report revealed that Telkom, which is 40 percent owned by the government, was the top advertiser in TNA during the period.
It was responsible for a third of the newspaper's advertising revenue.
It was previously reported that Telkom sponsored 12 business breakfasts for TNA to the tune of R12m in the 2012/13 financial year. - Sapa