DA MP Phumzile van Damme

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday said it has requested Multichoice for the full report it relied on to decide not to renew the contract it has with formerly Gupta-owned ANN7.

This week Multichoice CEO Calvo Mawela said the contract with ANN7 will not be renewed when it expires on 20 August. Mawela said the timing of the announcement gave ANN7 employees ample time to prepare for the removal of the channel from the DStv bouquet.

He said while Multichoice had made mistakes in its dealings with ANN7, which was recently bought from the Guptas by Mzwanele Manyi, an internal probe had found no evidence of corruption.

The Gupta brothers - Ajay, Atul and Rajesh - who have close ties to President Jacob Zuma, are being investigated by authorities for their role in alleged state capture. They are accused of exerting undue influence on government officials in order to secure lucrative tenders.

Mawela cited the absence of a due diligence process and "reputation damage" as some of the reasons Multichoice was not renewing the contract with ANN7.

But on Friday DA MP Phumzile van Damme said her party has "today submitted an application to Multichoice in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to request the full report it relied on for terminating its contract with Gupta-owned ANN7".

Van Damme added: "The report compiled by MultiChoice’s Audit and Risk Committee must be made available to the public in the interest of openness and transparency, and in particular, to reveal the full details about why and how the payments were made to the Gupta-owned ANN7".

She said the public deserves to know the "full truth".

"Instead of providing substantial answers, Multichoice’s press briefing on Wednesday left the public with more questions than answers. If Multichoice has nothing to hide, it will willingly make this document public," said Van Damme, the DA shadow minister for communications.

"Only the full truth will get Multichoice out of this mess. We need to know what 'mistakes' were made, why no one is being held accountable and whether the money of those who are DSTV subscribers may have been used to grease Gupta palms."

The have been suggestions that the Multichoice paid millions of rand as an "advance payment" to the Guptas to influence government policy on the long delayed digital migration - something Mawela has denied.

However, Van Damme said it was clear that Multichoice has thus far declined to make the report public.

"The DA will now rely on the law to compel it to do so. The DA has submitted the PAIA application in terms of two sections of the Act namely: Section 50 which states that: “[a] requester must be given access to any record of a private body if (a) that record is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.

She quoted section 70, which states that: “the head of a private body must grant a request for access to a record of the body contemplated in section 63 (1), 64 (1), 65, 66(a) or (b), 67, 68 (1) or 69 (1) or (2) if (a) the disclosure of the record would reveal evidence of (i) a substantial contravention of, or failure to comply with, the law; or  (ii) imminent and serious public safety or environmental risk; and (b) the public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the harm contemplated in the provision in question”.

Van Damme said the DA eagerly awaits a response from Multichoice. "One, we trust, that will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

- African News Agency (ANA)