Free State government the biggest spender on Gupta media companies
Johannesburg - The Free State provincial government spent more than any other provincial government in securing R79 million worth of advertising space on Gupta-owned companies The New Age (TNA) and Infinity Media.
This was revealed by the accounting officer at the National Treasury Jan Gilliland at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday in Johannesburg.
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government was the second biggest spender on TNA and Infinity Media with payments amounting to R25 million, followed by the North West which spent R23,8 million.
Gilliland was asked by the commission to give a breakdown of the amounts paid to Gupta owned Infinity Media and TNA Media by government departments.
He was able to track the payments through the National Treasury's Basic Accounting System (BAS), which records all government payment transactions.
Gilliland told the inquiry that a total of R260 million was paid to TNA and Infinity Media by government departments. The payments were made to 11 separate banking accounts under variations of the two companies' names.
A breakdown of the payments received by the two companies;
National government = R99,6 million
Free State provincial government = R79 million
KwaZulu-Natal provincial government = R25 million
North West provincial government = R23,8 million
Northern Cape provincial government = R16,5 million
Mpumalanga provincial government = R5,9 million
Gauteng provincial government = R5,8 million
Eastern Cape provincial government = 3,4 million
Limpopo provincial government = R500 000
The only province that did not acquire media space from the two companies was the Western Cape.
The offices of the premiers for the 8 provinces in total spent about R113 million on Infinity Media and TNA.
The government communication and information systems (GCIS) spent R55 million. About R51,8 million was paid to TNA and R3.3 million was paid to Infinity Media.
Advocate Vincent Maleka, who is part of the commission's legal team told the head of the inquiry deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo that Gilliland was assisting to tell the third part of the GCIS story.
Former GCIS CEO Themba Maseko had told the first part and acting GCIS director-general Phumla Williams told the second part.
Maseko was removed in February 2011 at former president Jacob Zuma's request after he refused to assist the Gupta family gain access to the GCIS' R600 million media buying budget. Mzwanele Manyi, a close ally of the Gupta family who later bought the family’s media companies, was appointed to replace Maseko.
The graph presented by Gilliland showed that there were no payments to the Gupta companies in 2010, but shortly after Maseko left R300 000 was paid by the GCIS to the two companies.
In 2012, R500 000 was paid and in March 2012 the payments increased to R5.6 million.
Advocate Maleka told Zondo that the payments to the two companies increased sharply from when the Gupta family were initiating establishing a television news channel and a newspaper, and around the time Maseko was removed as the CEO of GCIS and the eventual court application by Manyi to liquidate AfroVoice Newspaper (formerly TNA).
The commission of inquiry into state capture is investigating allegations of corruption largely centred around the infamous Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma.
It has been alleged that the Gupta family used its relationship with Zuma to score business deals with state-owned enterprises. Billions were allegedly paid out to the family in suspicious business deals involving government officials.
The inquiry will resume on Wednesday.IOL