New Age business breakfasts were good for SABC: Ben Ngubane

Duduzane Zuma, right, with Ajay and Atul Gupta in the offices of their newspaper, The New Age, in Midrand, Gauteng, in 2011.
Duduzane Zuma, right, with Ajay and Atul Gupta in the offices of their newspaper, The New Age, in Midrand, Gauteng, in 2011.
Image: Gallo Images

Former SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane believes the controversial New Age business breakfasts added value to the public broadcaster.

He told the state capture inquiry on Monday that he had nothing to do with the partnership between the SABC and the Gupta-owned "The New Age" newspaper, which conducted the breakfasts.

“Our news people developed that relationship that there will be these breakfast shows, we will record them and broadcast them live. There was an agreement signed by members of the newsroom with TNA, which spelled out the modalities on how these shows will be arranged,” he told the commission.

“TNA would hire the hall, provide breakfast, pay for flat screens, projectors and roving mics. SABC would send out outside broadcast vans with technicians and presenters. That’s how the roles were provided for.”

Ngubane, who has been implicated in state capture, served as SABC board chairman between 2010 and 2013, before leading the board at Eskom.

Broadcasting the TNA business breakfasts, lavish sit-down affairs where ministers were interviewed about their portfolios, allegedly cost the SABC millions. However, Ngubane maintained it was value for money.

“Our sales kept on improving, so these programmes were, therefore, adding value,” he said.

He was also quizzed about his relationship with the Gupta family.

“There was this business partnership for morning breakfasts. I attended those breakfasts and I would sit with the people in The New Age, editors and members of the Gupta family. On a few occasions, I went to social [events] at their home,” he said.

His testimony is continuing.


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