Warts and all: Pro-Zupta Manyi described as ‘birthday present’ for ANN7

JOHANNESBURG — It didn’t take long for analysts yesterday to deconstruct pro-Zuma supporter Mzwanele Manyi’s ‘purchase’ of ANN7 and The New Age from the Guptas. Manyi’s shelf company Lodidox ‘bought’ the two media agencies for R450m through vendor financing. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, it’s clear that Manyi’s company is just another front for the Guptas. It’s questionable as to whether the Guptas’ media businesses are even worth R450m, meaning Manyi may have inadvertently tied himself down to a dud for the next few years. But the vendor financing purchase is not the major news. More importantly, the Guptas will be seeking ways to continue doing business in SA without bank accounts. Now that Baroda has dumped them, it’s desperate times and desperate measures. – Gareth van Zyl

By Donwald Pressly*

21 August 2017 – There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a newspaper – or indeed, television station – being allied to a political party.

Donwald Pressly

In the United Kingdom there is a very thin veneer of independence when it comes to its mainline newspapers. Some are pro-Conservative or Labour to the point of being hostile to the political groupings outside of their anointed favourites.

But we all know where the Daily Mail and the Telegraph stand. They pretty much follow the Tory line. The Guardian is broadly Left, and more or less supports Labour.

Here in South Africa we had Naspers in the apartheid days which only a few years before democracy opted not to support the National Party. Die Burger and its sister newspapers didn’t make any bones about their contempt for the United Party or the Progressive Federal Party – let alone the ANC, of course.

Now we have ANN7 and The New Age. They have been – and will continue to be – ANC supporting newspapers. Actually they are pretty forthright about it. ANN7 pretty much is a mouthpiece of President Jacob Zuma’s faction in the ANC. Everyone knows where they are coming from.

What is different about these two outlets in South Africa is that there is a tremendously strong line of evidence that they have been backed with public money – taxpayers money – through a variety of government/Gupta family deals. They include ‘legitimate’ advertising by parastatals and government departments and other agencies. The New Age breakfasts have proved that there is no free breakfast.

An entrance to the ANN7 Television and The New Age newspaper offices, owned by the Gupta family, is seen in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Mzwanele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi has taken over – or is about to take over – as bossman of both ANN7 and the New Age. He makes no bones about his support for Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Both these outlets are skating on the edge of hate speech laws in South Africa, but their support for the ANC is, surely, legitimate until it is proved that public money is being misused to prop up these enterprises.

We must continue to ask serious questions about this, but they provide a window to the inner workings of the – admittedly now rather corrupted – ruling party.

Interviewed on ANN7 Manyi said the news teams would continue to reflect the views of the voiceless. “When you listen to ANN7 you will get a full picture of what is happening in South Africa. Quality news must come here. It must be credible, it must be real. It must be factual.”

Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi

The presenter on ANN7 described Manyi’s purchase of a majority share in ANN7 as an appropriate fourth “birthday present” for the station.

Former African National Congress MP Vytjie Mentor posted on Facebook yesterday that it appeared that the financing for the two news teams had been sourced from the Industrial Development Corporation. If this is so, it is deeply concerning, as this body is a government agency.

Readers and views should not avoid reading and viewing these propaganda teams. It will give them an insight into the thinking of the ruling faction in South Africa. Thank goodness we still have alternative information teams from independent newspapers groups like TMG and, ironically, Media24 (the old Naspers) as well as eNCA.

In a jaundiced sort of way, South Africa now has a spread of ideological news services from which to build a picture of what is really going on in the country, warts and all.

  • Donwald Pressly is the editor of Cape Messenger.