'I swore at him, the meeting got really heated': Yunus Carrim on Koos Bekker

25 February 2020 - 17:49 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
Former communications minister Yunus Carrim, who spoke of a heated 2014 meeting with Naspers chair Koos Bekker at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday.
Former communications minister Yunus Carrim, who spoke of a heated 2014 meeting with Naspers chair Koos Bekker at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday.
Image: Business Times/Trevor Samson

There was no love lost between former communications minister Yunus Carrim and Naspers group chair Koos Bekker.

That's according to Carrim, who was grilled on Tuesday at the state capture inquiry about digital migration and the controversial sale of the SABC archives to MultiChoice.

Carrim told the Zondo commission that his stance on the two issues — particularly on breaking the DStv monopoly in the pay-TV space — set him on a collision course with Bekker.  

So bad was the tension between them that insults flew during a meeting in March 2014. According to Carrim, the bone of contention was the government's insistence on removing encryption on MultiChoice as part of digital migration to open up competition.

Bekker, testified Carrim, was having none of it. Relations soured to the point where Bekker allegedly accused Carrim of doing the bidding of e.tv and being corrupt.

“We had the first meeting, where his primary preoccupation was he wanted to tell me that the facilitation process was very poor — and I kept the door open because he is a very important man,” said Carrim.

“The meeting occurred in March 2014 in Tshwane. Initially Mr Bekker focused on Naspers and how much contribution they made to this country.

“At some stage I told him, 'Mr Bekker, you have to allow for competition — it is untenable.' To my surprise, he said to me, 'Give me three names of companies you think should compete.' I said, 'You cannot choose your own competitors; it is policies and regulations that must decide.'

“It also came to my attention that Naspers got the sole licence in 1988 to establish M-Net ... and they were very close to the National Party. I suggested to Mr Bekker that even if you get competition, it will take a long time for someone to be the real competitor to MultiChoice.”

It was at this point that Bekker lost his cool, said Carrim. “He would not have it and at some stage the meeting got very frosty. He was dismissive and [said] this is all nonsense.

“Then he said, 'Minister, you speak the language of e.tv,' and suggested that I was corrupt.

“I told him I was overpaid as a minister. I told him I drive a 2009 Toyota Corolla in 2014. I swore at him. The meeting got really heated. I was not OK to swear, but chairperson, I was fed up,” Carrim told the commission.

Carrim added that Bekker is yet to apologise for accusing him of being corrupt without evidence. “I am still of the view that he must apologise.”


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