Ajay and Atul Gupta File picture: Independent Media

PORT ELIZABETH - The employees at Africa News Network (ANN7), founded by the Guptas, are being punished for the sins of their bosses, National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) said in a statement on Thursday. 

Announcing the decision not to renew ANN7's contract on Wednesday, Multichoice CEO Calvo Mawela said although there was no evidence of corruption with the Midrand-headquartered ANN7, Multichoice had found that there were some mistakes made in contractual negotiations between the two companies. 

NUMSA acting national spokeswoman, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, said that the decision to cut ANN7's contract was condemned as it was likely to lead to job cuts and retrenchments for thousands of media workers and their families. 

Hlubi-Majola said that employees of ANN7 were being unfairly condemned for their association to the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma. 

"NUMSA has consistently said that the Gupta’s must be investigated and criminally charged so that the full extent of the corruption allegations can be ventilated in court and the wrong doers must be punished. The failure to do this has led to a situation where they are being tried through the court of public opinion. The decision by Multichoice reflects this reality. The management couldn’t find any proof of corruption. The ‘procedural shortcomings’ were of their own making, but because of the intense negative publicity associated with the news network they made the decision to punish the station and its workers anyway." Hlubi-Majola said, adding MultiChoice's decision had nothing to do with creating a space for balanced journalism. 

"If ANN7’s crime is that it is partisan, then MultiChoice should also not renew the contracts of the SABC, eNCA, RT, CNN and all the other news networks." 

The ANN offices. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

She said Numsa's position should not be misconstrued as expressing support for Zuma or the ANC, adding MultiChoice's decision was an attack on media freedom and diversity.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has since said that it would be investigating MultiChoice over allegations of payments made to ANN7 and the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC). 

MultiChoice said that in a bid to replace ANN7 on DStv, it was looking at finding a new black-owned news channel which represents the majority of people in South Africa. This was welcomed by Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane as a "progressive move". ANN7's contract on Multichoice' Dstv bouquet expires in August. 

- African News Agency (ANA)