Mzwanele Manyi demands money from rotten Gupta deal

Businessman files claim for R144 million

13 May 2018 - 00:03 By AUBREY MTHOMBENI and MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA
Mzwanele Manyi, who bought the Guptas' TV assets, is seeking damages.
Mzwanele Manyi, who bought the Guptas' TV assets, is seeking damages.
Image: Alon Skuy

Businessman Mzwanele Manyi wants the SABC to pay him R144-million "owed" to the Gupta family for the business breakfast shows.

Manyi acquired ANN7 and The New Age from the Guptas last year for R450-million by way of vendor financing - in other words, the family lent him the money to buy their assets. Now Manyi has entered into legal proceedings, claiming he "has suffered damages in the amount of R144,551,738.16".

The SABC signed the deal with TNA in March 2012, agreeing to pay at least R1-million per show without generating any revenue for its trouble.

The Guptas were also paid "sponsorship fees" by state-owned companies like Eskom, Transnet and Telkom for the shows.

At the time the deal was signed, the public broadcaster was charging R18,000 for 30 seconds on its programmes but agreed to broadcast the 45-minute show for the Guptas free of charge.

The SABC blew R20-million broadcasting the business breakfast shows before the new SABC board canned the deal last year following parliamentary inquiries in which it was exposed as a way for the Guptas to milk state coffers. The new board has also asked the Special Investigating Unit to probe the deal.

Now Manyi, in papers before the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa, claims the new SABC board cancelled the deal illegally.

On Friday, Manyi didn't want to comment on the matter, saying: "I don't want my name dragged into the New Age and ANN7 issues that happened before my time. I have broken with the past." ANN7 was last month rebranded as Afro Worldview and TNA as Afro Voice.

But when Manyi was asked why he is the one who has taken the SABC to the arbitration foundation and not the Guptas, he would only say: "My lawyers are dealing with the matter."

in numbers

• R144m is the amount Mzwanele Manyi is claiming from the SABC.

• R450m is the amount Manyi 'bought' the Gupta media companies with.

• R20m is the amount the SABC spent on the business breakfasts before they were canned last year.

In June last year, TNA demanded R85-million for damages "within seven days".

The SABC has filed papers in the High Court in Johannesburg to interdict the arbitration proceedings. The public broadcaster conceded that its deal with TNA is illegal, adding that Manyi doesn't deserve a cent.

The deal is also a subject to the state capture commission of inquiry. SABC legal adviser Refilwe Lefakane, in her affidavit, said: "The matter is not ripe for hearing as it is one of the cases being investigated by the SIU."

Lefakane added that TNA "refused" to wait until the outcome of the SIU and state capture investigation before making its demands.

When the SABC signed the 36-month deal with the Guptas in March 2012, it agreed to "cover the costs of the television production to promote the events" while the Guptas pocketed the profit.

SABC acting spokeswoman Mmoni Seapolelo said: "This matter is before the courts and we are unable to comment on it."

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