The leader of the Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille. Picture: Gallo Images
and Luyolo Mkentane
Helen Zille’s DA and the big media houses were colluding to undermine new entrants such as The New Age, communications portfolio chairperson Eric Kholwane said on Thursday.
Kholwane and others accused Helen Zille of hypocrisy and lying following her decision to pull out of The New Age Business Briefing next week, claiming new information on the sponsorship of the event that it was an abuse of taxpayers’ money.
In outlining the reason for her withdrawal, Zille said this week a City Press story on Sunday that the sponsorship of the event by state owned enterprises was “a convenient cover for the channelling of R25m of government money to a private newspaper”.
But Kholwane was scathing about Zille’s motives.
“When the DA tried to access information about The New Age through Parliament processes, they were only singling out one publication and were not interested in the government spend on the entire media industry.
“There is definitely a political agenda at play here and there is no doubt that they were colluding with the media houses. The print media industry and the advertising industry have not transformed. What is happening is that The New Age is taking a slice of the cake and the other media houses are not happy about it.”
He saw the DA’s attack as anti-transformation. “When the committee met with the media our country. The same big media houses which the DA collude with are at the forefront to undermine community media in general and community print media in particular.”
The ANC in the Western Cape accused Zille of double standards. Provincial leader Marius Fransman said yesterday that Zille’s withdrawal of her participation in The New Age Business Briefing this week was “a publicity stunt”, adding she had pulled out because of “political reasons”.
Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said while Zille was raising the issue of the use of public funds, her provincial government has a multimillion-rand communications contract with TBWA/Hunt Lascaris and was buying airtime on local radio stations to promote herself. He said that Zille’s statements rang hollow.
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga’s office said Zille needed to apologise for lying to the public that she did not know that The New Age Bsiness Briefing was funded by Telkom as she had taken part in previous sessions.
Motshekga’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said: “This episode has dealt a blow to her credibility before the South African public. She has exposed her hypocrisy, double-speak and forked tongue.”
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said he found it “deplorable” that Zille was attacking the paper when it had launched a platform to “inform people about relevant issues through its business briefings”.
“This borders on jealousy on the part of the DA. They have been complaining about the freedom of speech and media. Now they want to muzzle the press. This is hypocrisy.”
SA Communist Party spokesperson Malesela Maleka said it was upsetting to the DA and “the lackeys in the media that now people can get a word directly from the minister”.