Johannesburg - The decision of the state capture commission to rent a building owned by Tiso Black Star group which owns newspapers and business television has been questioned once again, with those questioning it saying it would be better for the commission to move out in order to save its reputation.
The uMkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) told Independent Media that it was part of the groups that on Monday delivered a memorandum to the Judge Raymond Zondo led commission where among other things they demanded that the commission should move out.
The association’s spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, said there is a possible compromise for the commission to use a building of a company with one of its titles known to have taken a hostile stance against former President Jacob Zuma who has been dragged to appear before the commission this week.
“There is a possible compromise for the commission to use a building of a company which owns a title like the Sunday Times which has been vociferous against Zuma… For the sake of the commission it must move out and find a neutral venue because that venue is loaded and it has potential compromise,” Niehaus, who had several running battles with the Sunday Times in the past, said.
Another political lobby group, the Radical Economic Transformation Champion (RET Champion) says it was also opposed to having the commission sitting there. The group’s spokesperson, Nkosentsha Shezi, echoed Niehaus in several sentiments like leaks, reputational risk for the commission and the high costs.
He said there are many vacant state owned buildings in Gauteng that would have been used, need be, the commission would have even pitched up a huge marquee that paying the reported rent of R290 000 a month.
“The issue of the commission using that building worries us a lot as we don’t know how secured it. We constantly have leaked documents carried by titles of Tiso (Black Star Group) now and again. By continuing to use the building we are forced to even to start thinking that the commission itself is captured by white monopoly capital,” Shezi said.
However, William Bird, the director of Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has a different view on the matter. He said he was not sure on what basis the two formations make those claims and from his memory, some of the most recent leaks came from News24 which is not owned by Tiso Black Star but by Media24.
“I don’t recall seeing a claim by the commission that documents were removed from the commission's document stored for safekeeping ... I guess if there was some evidence based concern to hosting the commission it would be important to address. As things stand while perhaps the hosting of the commission at a media house may raise some concerns there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to suggest that Tiso or its media have benefited in any way. It doesn’t seem that their journalists are favored,” Bird said.
The ANC said it would not like to get involved in the matter as the issue of procurement falls under the commission. The commission asked to be given enough time to respond to queries sent by Independent Media on the matter.