Infinity Media Networks owner Mzwandile Manyi addresses a media briefing at ANN7 television studios in Johannesburg. He is flanked by anchor Sindi Mabe. PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola/ANA

Johannesburg - Owner of Infinity Media Networks, Mzwanyele Jimmy Manyi, on Wednesday held a media briefing in which he explained why he turned to the Gupta family to finance his acquisition of the ANN7 television network as well as The New Age newspaper.

Manyi said he turned to the Guptas after his efforts to secure R300 million funding from the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) was unsuccessful due to ''unreasonable demands'' by the funding institution. 

He had planned to use the R300 million to buy a stake in a listed entity.

In a bizarre live television studio broadcast that caught journalists by surprise, as they had expected an ordinary media briefing as per the company invite, Manyi said he was seeking to ''clear the air in the light of wrong narratives out there'' about the company, sold to him through vendor financing by the controversial Gupta family.

''An opportunity presented itself and I took it....we have world class facilities as you can see here, none of you has these kind of facilities. As a transformation agent, it was important to consider the issue of jobs here...if we were to succumb to the pressure from out there, 500 people would be left jobless,'' he said.

'It was that kind of merry-go-round that made me realise development finance institutions (DFI), which are supposed to drive development, are not doing what they are supposed to do. So, if I cannot get finance from a DFI, what chances do I have with commercial banks? I went to the Guptas as I already had been unsuccessful in DFI market out there...vendor financing is a good instrument.''

He would not disclose how much he was expected to pay the Guptas every month in terms of the agreement. 

Manyi showed journalists a tax certificate from the SA Revenue Services (SARS) for his holding company Lodidox Management and another document that showed that he was the sole shareholder of Lodidox.

He added that there were many black economic empowerment (BEE) companies that were interested in partnering with him to run Infinity Media Networks.

Manyi's Lodidolox acquired ANN7 for R300 million and The New Age for R150 million through vendor financing. 

Manyi, a staunch supporter of President Jacob Zuma, also heads African National Congress-facilitated business networking organisation, Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF).

The sale of the media empire was one of the latest sale of assets by the Gupta family as state capture allegations against them and their associates, including Zuma's son Duduzane, continue unabated. 

The allegations came to light after the leaking of thousands of emails obtained from the family's computer servers.

Manyi vowed to tackle the hostile labour relations between staff and management at ANN7 and The New Age, promising growth and transformation at his newly acquired media company.

''There will be no victimisation of staff, we plan to keep everyone who is already here and even grow the company further...everything will be done according to the laws of the country here. I heard about staff being badly treated, I have met with them and will still do so again. The unions have allowed me to settle in, we are set to meet in September and resolve all issues,'' he said.

Black staff members at the two news outlets have complained about racism, unfair labour practices, unfair dismissals and being underpaid compared to their Indian and white colleagues. 

Most of the complainants approached trade unions and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for help over the years.

African News Agency and IOL