The City Press reported that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi spent R1.6 million on adverts in one edition of The New Age newspaper, which the Department of Communications is set to request be declared as irregular expenditure.
According to the newspaper, senior managers at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) responsible for government ads were not aware of The New Age adverts.
One of the GCIS managers told the City Press that nobody authorised the advertisements, and that “the minister and her people went behind our back”.
In January 2015 news emerged that the Department of Communications spent over R10 million on advertising in The New Age this past financial year.
The DA said the amount was “skewed” compared to what was spent on other local newspapers.
“This accounts for 11.2% of government adspend across 248 publications. A comparison with the biggest newspapers shows just how skewed government adspend is towards the Gupta-owned newspaper, despite its low readership,” said the DA.
“There can be no rational explanation for government spending R10,2 million on advertisements in a newspaper with 153,000 readers, but just half a million rand on a newspaper with 180 000 readers,” said the DA.
“The only explanation for the disproportionate adspend on The New Age is that it is owned by the politically-connected Gupta family, and because its editorial stance is unashamedly pro-Zuma.”
The full report is available in the City Press of 1 March 2015