Yet another state department has acknowledged spending money on advertising in newspaper The New Age. Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said his department has spent R1.5m over the last three years, which reflects “cost containment measures” taken.
It takes the total spend on The New Age by six state departments and their entities to R8.2m. This was spent on advertising as well as promotional tickets to the newspaper’s business breakfasts televised on state broadcaster the SABC.
In a parliamentary question, DA MP and former senior official of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Glynnis Breytenbach asked what amount Masutha’s department spent on the Gupta family-owned newspaper between 2011 and 2014.
Masutha replied that the justice department had placed advertisements in The New Age newspaper through the GCIS, the government communication system, to the value of R1 409 452.27 between the 2011/2012 and 2014/15 financial years.
“Media buying has been centralised at the GCIS to take advantage of bulk buying in terms of cost containment measures,” said Masutha.
The NPA, said the minister, placed a recruitment advertisement in The New Age in June 2013 “for the amount of R18 400”.
In addition, Legal Aid South Africa’s total advertising expenditure on The New Age newspaper for the three financial years ending in 2014/15 included R62 928 during the 16 Days of Activism in 2013/14 and R66 758.40 during human rights month.
The minister said such entities as the Magistrate’s Commission and the Board of Sheriffs “have not advertised in The New Age newspapers”.
The Gupta family became a household name in South Africa when they controversially used the Waterkloof Air Force Base to land charter planes full of guests for a multi-million rand wedding in 2013.
Earlier Fin24 reported that the higher education and training department paid R1.2m in 2012/13 on advertising, although this dropped to R755 000 in 2013/14.
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande – who is also general secretary of the South African Communist Party – reported that public entities falling under the department spent R37 000 in 2012/13 on advertising in the newspaper, but this jumped to R141 823 in 2013/14.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies divulged that his department injected just short of R2m of advertising spend into The New Age.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson acknowledged that her department spent R1.9m on tickets to the paper’s breakfasts, while Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said her department spent R500 000 on sponsorships of the paper’s breakfasts.
The breakfasts normally include a cabinet minister, and a recent one in Cape Town hosted President Jacob Zuma after his disrupted State of the Nation speech in February.
Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs Gugile Nkwinti reported that nearly R180 000 had been spent by his department and entities reporting to him on tickets to attend The New Age breakfast briefings during the last three financial years.
The information on the advertising and breakfast spend comes in response to a series of questions from DA MPs in Parliament.
Money spent applies to the years 2011 to 2014.