The Democratic Alliance has called on MultiChoice to publish the contracts it entered into with the Gupta-owned 24-hour news channel ANN7 along with the record of negotiations with the channel.
It also wants parliament to probe the deal, said the party’s spokeswoman on communications, Phumzile Van Damme.
The DA’s requests come after News24 reported that MultiChoice made a “questionable payment” of R25m to ANN7 and increased its annual payment to ANN7 from R50m to R141m. The payments were revealed in the so-called “Gupta Leaks” e-mails.
“The payments came after the family seemingly assisted former communications minister Faith Muthambi in getting President Jacob Zuma to transfer certain broadcasting powers to her, something MultiChoice was lobbying the minister for,” News24 said.
“Following the transfer of powers, Muthambi controversially pushed through a decision in favour of unencrypted set-top boxes, which benefitted MultiChoice.”
MultiChoice has denied any link between Muthambi’s decision in its favour and the payments to ANN7.
Gupta-linked businessman Mzwanele Manyi acquired ANN7 this year in a deal financed by the Guptas.
“If there is indeed nothing untoward about the nature of its dealings with the Gupta family, MultiChoice will have no issue publishing the requested documents for public scrutiny,” Van Damme said in a statement on Sunday.
“Should it fail to do so within 48 hours, the DA will request that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) force it to do so,” she said.
“In terms of clause 7 of Icasa’s subscription broadcasting services regulations, as a licensed subscription service provider, MultiChoice is required to keep a record of all contracts it enters into, which Icasa has the power to subpoena, as it deems fit,” Van Damme added.
“In terms of Muthambi’s unsurprising involvement, the DA will write to the chairperson of the communications committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, requesting that the now overdue inquiry into state capture as was requested of the committee by the deputy speaker of parliament, Lechesa Tsenoli, be scheduled as the first item on the committee’s agenda in 2018.
“In August this year, the portfolio committee on communications received a letter from Tsenoli, requesting that the committee investigate state capture, and, in particular, allegations pertaining to Muthambi. The latest revelations are an indication that the matter can no longer be delayed.
“The DA looks forward to MultiChoice’s feedback and questioning Muthambi during the inquiry. This time, she cannot be allowed to escape without being held accountable, if wrongdoing is found.” — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media