Mzwanele Manyi defends govt’s support for TNA newspaper

Manyi says government advertised with 'The New Age' because it was different to mainstream media as at the time government was suffering from a serious media onslaught generally.

FILE: A video screengrab of Mzwanele Manyi appearing at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture on 14 November 2018.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) head Mzwanele Manyi has defended government’s support of then Gupta- owned The New Age (TNA) newspaper, saying at the time there was a media onslaught on government and the paper had a different posture.

Manyi is testifying at the commission on Monday about his tenure at the government communication agency.

He says government also advertised with TNA because it was different to mainstream media.

"At the time government was suffering from a serious media onslaught generally. And the challenge that government has had is to say to the media: we are not saying try to be nice to the government, but try to be balanced in your reporting. The posture of TNA was a complete opposite. It was a posture of saying the glass is half full as opposed to the glass is half empty."

Meanwhile, former GCIS head Themba Maseko - whom Manyi took over from - also testified at the commission a few months ago.

He told the commission he once received a phone call from former President Jacob Zuma asking him to help the Gupta family.

'STATE & LAW HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CAPTURED'

Manyi says there has never been a time that the state was not captured.

He says the state and law have always been captured.

“It is my contention, chairperson that actually, there has never been a time when the state had not been captured. Not only has the state been captured, chairperson, but even the law has also been captured.”

'WHY TNA?'

Manyi says there is nothing wrong with GCIS spending more money on TNA newspaper than it did on other big daily newspapers.

He was asked why the paper, which was fairly new, received R8 million between 2011 and 2012 when other older and bigger dailies received less.

“What happens if there are things that departments were looking for [and] required 'The New Age'? This is what drives where we place newspapers. GCIS is not some social development department that is seeking to spread things equally to a whole range of newspapers. No, it's not about that.”

WATCH: State Capture Inquiry, 26 November 2018 Part 2

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)