Tshediso Matona tried to convince SAA to 'support' TNA, inquiry hears
Johannesburg - Cheryl Carolus has detailed how the former director-general at the department of public enterprises tried to convince South African Airways (SAA) to "support" The New Age (TNA) newspaper.
Carolus pushed back against efforts to get the struggling airline to buy advertising space in TNA when the newspaper was starting out.
TNA was owned by the Gupta family and acted as a government mouthpiece and it was later sold to businessman Mzwanele Manyi.
The former ANC deputy secretary general was testifying at the commission on Wednesday.
Carolus said she was called into a meeting by the former director-general of the department of public enterprises Tshediso Matona who wanted to discuss TNA.
She went to the meeting which was also attended by former SAA CEO Siza Mziemela and then public enterprises minister Malusi Giagaba's adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu.
Matona told Carolus that TNA was a new entrant to the market and that it had to be supported.
TNA had previously applied for advertising space with SAA but their bid got rejected as they did not meet the requirements.
"The DG explained that The New Age is a new entrant and he thought that to encourage media diversity they should be supported," she said.
Carolus pushed back against this, saying diversity was important but SAA could not just spend money without a purpose.
"I assured the meeting that media diversity is a healthy thing, I questioned whose job that was. What we were being asked had financial implications. We sometimes did campaigns liked any company and it was done to meet an objective and in terms of SAA it is to increase profitability," she said.
Carolus said SAA was later invited to purchase a table at one of TNA's businesses breakfasts. She said the airline did not spend any money on TNA.
What the struggled stalwart told the commission links with various other testimony of some of the officials at the inquiry.
It has been said that the Gupta's were seeking advertising spend for their newspaper and sought to get this from government departments.
Former GCIS CEO Themba Maskeo was removed for his refusal to help the Guptas get hold of the government advertising budget. He was replaced by Manyi who testified defending government spend on TNA. Manyi even encouraged director-general of various departments to support TNA.
The state capture inquiry resumes next week.
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