Veil of secrecy over Multichoice’s ANN7 deals continues – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP says it seems that all Gupta-related parliamentary meetings are being delayed

Veil of secrecy over Multichoice’s ANN7 deals continues, seemingly aided by Parliament

14 March 2018

Multichoice has this month refused the DA’s request for the full report on its payments to ANN7 allegedly to influence government policy on digital migration in its favour.

Multichoice states that it is under no legal obligation to make the report public, and furthermore does not recognise “public interest” as a recognised right.

Last month, the DA submitted an application to Multichoice in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the full report compiled by its Audit and Risk Committee, followings its investigations into the payments.

The press conference in January announcing its findings, was scant on detail, vaguely admitting “mistakes were made”, and holding no one accountable. No information was provided for the reasons for the payment to ANN7 first at R25 million, increased to R50 million and then R141 million.

The DA believes that the public needs to know the full truth about the dealings between Multichoice, ANN7 and indeed the SABC, and whether, MultiChoice, a private company engaged in “policy capture” by paying inducements to influence government policy in its favour. There is nothing wrong with lobbying government regarding policy, but when money is paid to gain influence, that is called a bribe, which is quite unlawful.

The matter is currently before ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC), who we trust will conduct its investigations and subpoena the relevant documents without fear or favour.

The DA will write to ICASA requesting an update on its investigations.

Multichoice’s refusal to provide the full report coincides with the cancellation of a scheduled meeting in Parliament this week, which was due to be attended by MultiChoice, ANN7 and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the Portfolio Committee on Communications to conducts its own oversight on the matter.

When requesting the reason for the cancellation of the meeting, my colleague Veronica van Dyk MP, the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Communications was told by the Chairperson of the committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, that changes were made to the programme and the meeting would be rescheduled in the near future.

The DA objected to this, as all parties in the committee, including the ANC has agreed that the matter relating to Multichoice was urgent, and needed to be dealt with as a priority. A meeting where a parliamentary inquiry, as ordered by the Speaker’s Office in August 2017, into Faith Muthambi’s role in State Capture, was due to be discussed also mysteriously disappeared from the committee’s programme.

It, therefore, seems that all Gupta-related meetings are being kicked for touch and delayed in perpetuity as is sometimes the case when dealing with uncomfortable matters at the Communications Committee. This has no doubt been exacerbated by reports today revealing the direct involvement of former President Jacob Zuma’s in setting up ANN7.

The DA will continue to be relentless in its push for both meetings to held, and inquiries conducted. Jacob Zuma must also be subpoenaed to appear before Parliament to explain his role in the saga.

The DA will not rest until the full truth is revealed about both policy and state capture involving the Department of Communications, its entities, and the industry it regulates.

Issued by Phumzile Van DammeDA Shadow Minister of Communications, 14 March 2018