Bob’s Weekend News Wrap – 20 February 2017
My first of the two stories over the weekend has to do with what I believe is financial fitness of our country. I think that I am fortunate to work with a sane securities guy like Owen Nkomo – our business guy from Inkunzi Wealth Group. More often than not, Owen decries how we as media, sometimes rubbish our own country. Sure we have problems AND challenges but the assault sometimes seems relentless. The upward trajectory of the Rand against the dollar was fantastic this week but this news wasn’t on the front page. The headline on the front page of the City Press reads “MP ousted to make place for Molefe”. What I found positive in that story is only on the next page, almost towards the end of the article. It is understood that none of the strategic instruments for Zuma’s radical plans outlined last week would require Treasury dig deeper into its pockets. The only cost associated with Zuma’s big plans is catered for in the existing department of Trade and Industry’s budget for the Black Industrialist Programme. The money is already available. There is nothing in the budget that will introduce new spending in terms of President Zuma’s radical economic transformation. The only other big project announced by the President that would require resources is the Moloto Road upgrade. This article by Hlengiwe Hlabathi and City Press colleagues, by the way, starts with a typical doom and gloom we have come to see in the papers.
My second story paradoxically flies in the face of my assertion in the first – I can at least plead balance though. The Daily Maverick reports that Nielsen figures have revealed that government has blessed the Gupta-owned newspaper – the New Age – with about R46 million rand in what seems like unwarranted ad spend. Nielsen calculates ad spend figures by measuring adverts in each publication of a given title. This is then tailed at the prices media outlets charge before discounts. The Daily Maverick reports that the biggest spender at The New Age is North West government with 45% of its print budget; roughly about R3.8 million. Gauteng spends about 5% of its budget, but coming in a close second is the Free State province. The problem with these figures and verification is where I agree with the Daily Maverick. Most newspapers submit to auditing by the Audit Bureau of circulations but the New Age steadfastly refuses to do so. In the absence of audited circulation figures; why would these provinces spend so much money on The New Age. On closer inspection, one then realises that the “Premier League” conspiracy may well be truth. These friends of the New Age support the Gupta newspaper and the President is way too close to the Guptas – simple as that! Oh and by the way, government spent about R11.5 million on advertising in the New Age in the 2015/16 fiscal to date. Themba Maseko – former GCIS chief executive alleged that he was removed from his position in 2012, after rebuffing efforts by one of the Guptas to have him channel more ad spend to their media companies. I wonder if this spend was ABC crosschecked what the outcome might be. Be that as it may; we might just have to live with the fact that perhaps just MAYBE – maybe as soon as they get their expensive terminal at OR, their insatiable appetite for wealth will be quenched.