Quick on the heels of the department of trade & industry acknowledging that it has injected just short of R2m of advertising spend into The New Age newspaper — owned by the Gupta family — in the last three years, the department of energy reported that it has spent R1,9m on tickets to the paper’s breakfasts.
Michael Bagraim, a DA MP and former Cape Chamber of Commerce president, asked what amount was spent by the energy department and state entities reporting to it on tickets and sponsorships on The New Age breakfast briefings for the last three financial years.
Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the department had spent R1,9m on tickets “and business breakfasts for the last three years” (2013 to 2015).
Joemat-Pettersson added that her department had spent money “on specific business briefings”, without specifying anything further. None of her entities had followed suit.
Meanwhile, the department of science & technology said it has spent nearly R500 000 on sponsorships of the paper’s breakfasts.
Bagraim also asked science & technology minister Naledi Pandor what amount was spent by her department and the entities reporting to her on tickets and sponsorships for The New Age breakfast briefings.
Pandor said the department spent R484 000 on sponsorships in the last three financial years.
The Technology Innovation Agency, which falls under the science and technology department, spent R7 130 on the briefings in 2012/2013.
Earlier this week , the trade & industry department reported it plugged nearly R2m worth of advertising into The New Age newspaper in the last three financial years.
During the same period the rural development and land reform department spent nearly R400 000 on advertising and breakfast tickets related to The New Age.
In reply to DA MP DW Macpherson, who asked how much his department and entities reporting to him spent on advertising in those three years in The New Age, trade & industry minister Rob Davies said R452 321 had been spent in 2011/2012, followed by just over R1m in 2012/2013, while this dropped to R388 000 in 2013/2014.
In addition, Davies reported that the National Empowerment Fund had spent about R230 000 on adverts in 2011/2012 and a further R28 000 in 2012/2013.
Meanwhile, the department of rural development and land reform spent about R210 000 on advertising in the pro-government newspaper in those three years as well. The amount jumped from just R9 000 in 2011/2012 to R179 000 in 2012/2013, but dropped to R33 840 in 2013/2014.
Minister of rural development & land affairs Gugile Nkwinti reported that nearly R180 000 had been spent by his department and entities reporting to him on tickets to attend The New Age breakfast briefings during the last three financial years.
Altogether the four departments, which have answered parliamentary questions on their funding of The New Age, have spent about R4,8m.
The New Age breakfasts tend to host senior ANC politicians and hosted President Jacob Zuma after his state of the nation speech in February this year.
Last October, the Mail & Guardian reported that then interim Eskom CEO Collin Matjila had signed off a R43m contract to sponsor The New Age’s breakfast briefings over a three-year period. — Fin24