State Cap­ture: how Gup­tas cashed in

● ANN7, The New Age got R260m from gov­ern­ment ● Duduzane Zuma now ready to tes­tify

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - GETRUDE MAKHAFOLA

THE two Gupta-owned me­dia out­lets, ANN7 tele­vi­sion news chan­nel and The New Age news­pa­per, re­ceived R260 mil­lion from South African gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, with R248m of the amount hav­ing gone to the news­pa­per.

Jan Gilliland, an ac­coun­tant and an of­fi­cial at Na­tional Trea­sury, tes­ti­fied how he tracked and traced pay­ments to the Gupta me­dia en­ti­ties made be­tween 2004 and July this year. TNA was launched in 2010, while ANN7 started broad­cast­ing in 2013.

Ev­i­dence leader Vin­cent Maleka told the com­mis­sion that Gilliland’s ev­i­dence was the third part, com­plet­ing “the story of GCIS” af­ter for­mer gov­ern­ment spin doc­tor Themba Maseko and act­ing GCIS chief ex­ec­u­tive Phumla Wil­liams tes­ti­fied how they were pres­sured to chan­nel gov­ern­ment ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets to Gupta-owned me­dia ti­tles.

Gilliland said he used the BAS (Basic Ac­count­ing Sys­tem) pay­ment method, ap­plied by the Na­tional and pro­vin­cial Trea­suries, to track and trace gov­ern­ment pay­ments for goods and ser­vices made by de­part­ments. This came af­ter the Hawks started in­ves­ti­gat­ing a R55m pay­ment to the Gupta me­dia out­lets and ap­proached Wil­liams, query­ing the pay­ment.

“This con­cept be­comes im­por­tant in the con­text of your man­date re­gard­ing the pro­cure­ment of goods and ser­vices, in­clud­ing pay­ments that are the sub­ject of this com­mis­sion, ei­ther be­cause they are un­der­pinned by state cap­ture, cor­rup­tion or fraud,” Maleka told com­mis­sion chair­man Deputy Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Zondo.

Gilliland said the Gup­tas re­ceived small amounts from 2004, which jumped sig­nif­i­cantly in 2008 when they re­ceived more than R1m. By 2011 a to­tal of R6m had been trans­ferred.

It had in­creased to R29m by 2012. When ANN7 was launched in 2013, the me­dia out­lets had re­ceived R30m.

Maleka said it could be as­sumed that ANN7 earned money from the gov­ern­ment from the day it went on air. To­tal amounts for 2014 and 2016 were R51m and R66m re­spec­tively.

The Gupta cash bo­nanza from the state started to de­crease from 2016 when the fam­ily re­ceived R43m. Only R27m was re­ceived in 2017, a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

From January 2018, the news­pa­per had re­ceived R3.7m un­til the demise of The New Age in July.

Owner Mzwanele Manyi, who took over con­trol of the Gupta me­dia ti­tles through a ven­dor fi­nanc­ing deal, suc­cess­fully liq­ui­dated the com­pany, cit­ing in­sol­vency.

Re­gard­ing pay­ments by prov­inces to the Gup­tas, the Free State, un­der for­mer pre­mier Ace Ma­gashule, trans­ferred R79m, while KwaZulu-Na­tal was sec­ond with pay­ments to­talling R29m.

Gilliland’s ev­i­dence was pre­sented in slides show­ing graphs of pay­ments over the years.

It also emerged yes­ter­day that Duduzane Zuma has de­cided to tes­tify and give his side of the story at the com­mis­sion.

The head of the com­mis­sion’s le­gal team, Paul Pre­to­rius, said a let­ter was re­ceived from Duduzane’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives stat­ing that he had changed his mind and would give tes­ti­mony.

Duduzane Zuma had ini­tially opted not to tes­tify as he was fac­ing par­al­lel crim­i­nal charges.

The charges re­late to an al­leged R600m bribe of­fered to for­mer deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas by the Gupta fam­ily at their Sax­on­wold com­pound in the pres­ence of Duduzane Zuma and controversial busi­ness­man Fana Hlong­wane.

Duduzane Zuma’s cor­rup­tion case is in the Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crimes Court.

Jus­tice Zondo also ruled yes­ter­day that the fugi­tive Gupta broth­ers – Ajay, Ra­jesh and Atul – would have to sub­mit af­fi­davits re­gard­ing their re­fusal to travel to South Africa to tes­tify.

The fam­ily and Duduzane Zuma have ap­plied to the com­mis­sion to be al­lowed to cross-ex­am­ine wit­nesses such as ex-MP Vytjie Men­tor, for­mer gov­ern­ment spin doc­tor Themba Maseko and for­mer deputy min­is­ter of fi­nance Mce­bisi Jonas.

The three gave explosive tes­ti­mony im­pli­cat­ing the Gup­tas, for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and Duduzane Zuma.

The fam­ily has, through their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, told Jus­tice Zondo that they pre­ferred to tes­tify via video link from a lo­ca­tion in Dubai, than travel to South Africa and be sub­jected to more “in­com­pe­tence by the po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors”.

Maleka ar­gued last week against the Gup­tas’ pref­er­ence for a video link and told Jus­tice Zondo the fam­ily wanted the com­mis­sion to work ac­cord­ing to their terms.

The fam­ily’s ev­i­dence, he said, was not “worth the pa­per it was writ­ten on” and was all about them por­tray­ing them­selves as in­no­cent in the state cap­ture saga.

Jus­tice Zondo will rule on the ap­pli­ca­tions to cross-ex­am­ine later this week. For­mer min­is­ter of pub­lic en­ter­prises Bar­bara Ho­gan is next to take the stand.

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