Former president Jacob Zuma had a much greater role in the establishment of 24-hour news channel ANN7, former editor for the station Rajesh Sundaram told the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture during his testimony on Monday.
Sundaram, who has travelled from India to South Africa to issue his testimony, said Duduzane’s involvement in the setting up of the station and or even the running of the business was minimal as opposed to that of his father.
Zuma was very much involved in the running of the station and he would provide feedback, the inquiry heard. It was at a later stage that Sundaram realised that Zuma had a much greater interest in the station and his input was favoured.
He told the inquiry of a time when he visited the presidential residence to meet with Zuma to discuss the station. What was strange was that Zuma had ample time to discuss the station. This was strangely peculiar, Sundaram said.
The Gupta brothers had a good relationship with the former statesman, who showed great interest in the details of how the station would be configured.
His testimony continues.
He is expected to table Zuma’s proximity to the station, believed to have been used by the Guptas as leverage to force government officials to yield requests for advertising to the family-owned media entities.
Sundaram has a book titled Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV, which details how:
- Zuma played a key role in the creation of the news channel.
- Gupta business associates fraudulently handed South African jobs to Indian nationals.
- ANN7 lied to MultiChoice on the news station’s readiness to launch.
- The Guptas, with a political and commercial agenda, micromanaged and abused staff at ANN7.
(Additional reporting by Brian Sokutu)