Former president Jacob Zuma helped secure two sweet deals for the Gupta family’s media ventures in 2013, a former employee has claimed in an affidavit. India-based journalist Rajesh Sundaram was employed by the family to help set up Atul and Ajay Gupta’s TV station ANN7 in 2013.
Sundaram has since sent an affidavit to parliament detailing several meetings and conversations he had with the Gupta brothers, their partners, and Zuma.
He has also offered to take the stand at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture against his former bosses. Sundaram claims that Ajay informed him in 2013, the year before the last general election, that Zuma had intervened after the Guptas complained to him that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) was refusing to advertise in their newspaper, The New Age.
The IEC has yet to respond. He also claims to have been told by Gupta business partner Laxmi Goel that Zuma helped secure a heavily discounted deal for the purchase of 100 hours of SABC footage by ANN7.
Sundaram, the author of Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV, about his encounters with the Gupta brothers and Zuma, describes in the affidavit several meetings he had with the trio. He was often asked to leave after the first half of the meeting, he said, leaving the brothers and Zuma in a closed meeting.
“After one such meeting I was told by Ajay Gupta that they had complained to president Zuma about how the Independent Electoral Commission was not giving the Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age any advertising from its multimillion-rand advertising budget.
“He said rival papers were being paid. He told me that at the end of the meeting president Zuma assured them that he would look into the matter.”
Sundaram said while it was Zuma’s son Duduzane who was a shareholder in Infinity Media before ANN7 was launched, it was Zuma who appeared hands-on with the launch of ANN7 and business deals at The New Age.