NEW AGE PAYING Part 4: Ad expenditure “irregular”

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 2, 2015

The Department of Communications has indicated that around R1.6-million spend by embattled Minister Faith Muthambi on government advertising in The New Age newspaper was illegal, and that senior Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) officials were unaware of the ads being placed.

According to a weekend CityPress article, the minister’s commissioning of an eight-page spread on the Free State Government was reportedly not authorised and came as a surprise to GCIS managers.

“We saw the adverts in the paper, but nobody authorised them. The minister and her people went behind our back,” a manager was quoted by the paper as saying, adding that they would be writing to National Treasury to have the amount spend declare invalid.

The article also claims that Muthambi had been trying to speed-up the closure of GCIS, which has since been re-established as a separate body for the department, as well as stripping deputy director generals, Nebo Legoabe, Harold Maloka and Phumla Williams, of their respective responsibilities.

Writing in a statement on the party’s website, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Communications, Gavin Davis, who has been at loggerheads with the minister following the controversial appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the SABC and the qualifications debacle surrounding the broadcaster’s former Chairwoman, Ellen Tshabalala, said that the article contravenes the explanation given by Communications Director-General, Donald Liphoko, who last month reportedly told the Mail & Guardian that the allegations were untrue.

“In the Communications Portfolio Committee meeting of 17 February, I asked Mr Liphoko whether R 1.6 million had been spent on a single advert in The New Age, without sign off by the Director-General. He replied that the allegations were false,” said Davis.

“The only possible explanation for government’s disproportionate advertising expenditure on The New Age is President Zuma’s close relationship with the newspaper’s owners, the Gupta family”.

Two months ago, an investigation by the party found that 11.2% off all government’s spending across 248 publications during the 2013 / 2014 financial year, took place in The New Age despite it considerably smaller readership.

  

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