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Carrim: Koos Bekker tried to pressure me to drop govt’s set-top boxes policy

Former communications minister Yunus Carrim said at their meeting, Koos Bekker lost his cool.

A screengrab of Yunus Carrim giving testimony at the state capture inquiry on 25 February 2020.

JOHANNESBURG - Former communications minister and African National Congress (ANC) MP Yunus Carrim on Tuesday said Naspers chairperson and billionaire Koos Bekker tried to pressure him into dropping government’s set-top boxes policy on digital migration.

Carrim, who testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry, said the main issue was the encryption of the boxes as approved in 2008 by Cabinet. It was aimed at encouraging completion in the pay-TV sector, which was largely dominated by MultiChoice and Naspers.

eTV threatened to take government to court if it did not add encryption and did Naspers.

Carrim said at their meeting, Bekker lost his cool.

“Mr Bekker again accused me of speaking the language of eTV… the meeting got very heated, it was not correct to swear at him but I was fed up with him,” he said.

SABC-MULTICHOICE ARCHIVE DEAL

Carrim said MultiChoice and Bekker were underhanded in their attempts to prevent competition in the pay-TV sector. He said the broadcasting company wanted to remain the dominant player in the industry.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) 2013 controversial archive deal with MultiChoice also took sharp focus at the inquiry on Tuesday.

Carrim said he was against it.

“The people in MultiChoice and SABC were going about saying I was in the power of eTV and that I’m corrupt… I asked Mr Bekker ‘I’m so overpaid as a minister, what I’m I going to do with the money? How many novels I’m I going to buy?’”

He accused Bekker and MultiChoice of using clandestine tactics to influence government policy to their benefit.

“With Mr Bekker, it seemed almost like a primitive defence of territorial turf. He was the one that first introduced pay-TV with his colleagues [and] he wasn’t going to allow any upstart to come into his turf,” Carrim said.

The commission resumes on Wednesday morning.

WATCH: State capture inquiry proceedings

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