JOHANNESBURG - The New Age received more in government ad spend compared to other media houses, contrary to Mzwanele "Jimmy" Manyi's evidence that the newspaper received only five percent of the budget.
The state capture commission's evidence leader Advocate Vincent Maleka interrogated Manyi's evidence at the commission on Monday and broke down the numbers per newspaper advertising.
Manyi had earlier compared TNA to the SABC and Ads24, an arm of the Media24 group.
Manyi said from the total budget of R194 million 2011/ 2012, the SABC received R68 million, followed by Ads24 which received almost R18 million, Avusa (now Tiso Blackstar) got R11 million, television news channel eTV got R8 million, and that TNA got R8 million.
TNA received under under five percent of the advertising budget, said Manyi.
Maleka said the comparison of the media houses is not "well founded" and that Adspend24 included many publications such as City Press newspaper.
"If you were to test what City Press as a newspaper received through government revenue, you would not look at the total group owned by Naspers, you will look at City Press only, correct?" he asked Manyi.
He replied and said City Press received most of the money at Media24.
"Check the figures properly Mr Manyi. The ad spend received by City Press was R199 323,00. These are your GCIS figures...we know that City Press has been a long established publication way before 2011/2012... compare that with what TNA earned that same year. TNA earned 20 times more from government business. We now know from your evidence that TNA earned R8.7m from GCIS. Correct?"
Manyi replied yes, but added that Maleka is comparing "apples to pears" because City Press was a weekly newspaper, while TNA was a daily publication.
This prompted Maleka to move on to compare TNA with other daily newspapers.
"You attempt to run away from a paper by paper comparison. Look at the other daily newspapers. You told the chairperson about the Daily Sun [Media24 newspaper] which you said had the biggest circulation...it earned R8 778. The Times daily publication received R183 000 while The Star got R97 000."
Manyi looked unsettled, and claimed that Maleka was taking a "mechanical approach".
He said there was a "bit more sophistication" in deciding where the government ads should go, as determined by GCIS system called Telmar.
Maleka said: "Chairperson, Manyi produced these figures to convince you that TNA got only four to five percent of the government ad spend budget... when we try to examine the figures we are told this is a technical exercise....what's the point of producing these figures if you do not want us to examine them closely on a more accurate analytical basis?"
"These are newspapers with audited circulation who had been around for many years. TNA, in its first year of business, earned more than R8 million. Correct?"
The once self-styled media mogul replied: "Yes".
He added that there was nothing new with that as people embraced "new things" in the form of TNA, which he said was different and "not riddled with inaccuracies" for the judiciary.
Commission chairman deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo then told Manyi that he had an issue with an article by TNA, which was riddled with inaccuracies following Zondo's interview with one of the newspaper's journalists.
Zondo said Nathi Ncube, a spokesman of the judiciary, had recorded the whole interview and offered the recording to TNA in order to correct their article.
Manyi gave a bizarre response to this and blamed other media houses.
He seemed to not understand what Zondo said, and veered off to lash at other newspapers, saying, "This is the kind of South Africa we are in. I rest my case".
The former government spin doctor claimed that ANN7 and TNA, which he bought through vendor financing, were "punished by mainstream media" for being sympathetic to government.
He said he took over the business in order to save jobs.
"At least 500 people are without a job for something that could have been prevented. If someone had a problem with a Manyi or the Guptas, that could have been dealt with, but the business should not have been undermined. It was providing an alternative view in the media space and employed a whole lot of young people, and mainly black. This was a tragedy to have lost the business."
The "height of hatred" against TNA and ANN7 started in 2017 after the two media outlets reported on alleged corruption at National Treasury, said Manyi.
A "whole cabal" of the country's big four media houses led the narrative against TNA.
"This was all a media hype designed to kill an alternative view and entrench a main stream media narrative."
In 2017, Manyi's Lodidox acquired ANN7 for R300 million and The New Age for R150 million from the Guptas through vendor financing.
The companies were liquidated this year following a decline in heavily relied on government advertising and non-payment of staff.
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African News Agency (ANA)