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The cost of newspapers at SAA

By Staff Writer
The cost of newspaper purchases by South African Airways (SAA) was recently highlighted by the Democratic Alliance (DA). In a statement released on behalf of Natasha Mazzone, DA shadow minister of Public Enterprises, it was revealed: “State-owned airline, South African Airways (SAA) has spent R9.4 million on purchasing almost 6 million copies of Gupta-owned newspaper the New Age, despite the embattled airline remaining in financial crisis and relying directly on government funding to remain a going concern.”
 
However, Tlali Tlali, spokesperson for SAA, told Justmoney that the airline offers a range of publications to travellers, not just the New Age, and that “the provision of newspapers forms part of our offering to our customers.”
 
According to Tlali, the amount of R9.4 million highlighted by the DA, was the amount spent on this title over a period of five years, and it has since “been decreased due to financial constraints we face.”
 
The provision of newspapers
 
The DA revealed that in response to parliamentary questions, Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene revealed that SAA purchased 5 927 000 copies of the New Age in 2011.
 
Tlali highlighted: “We have approximately 20 daily, weekly and/or weekend titles for our customers to choose from. These titles include New Age newspaper as one of the daily publications we offer.
 
“We find it strange that the DA chose to single out one title at the exclusion of all others and make insinuations that there was political interference. Some of our customers read this title and it is not up to DA to prescribe to our customers which titles they must read.”
 
An issue raised by the DA is that the Guptas who own the New Age, have ties to President Jacob Zuma. “The probe must consider whether the President or his acolytes had any influence on the agreement between SAA and the New Age, whether such spending is financially viable given the current state of SAA, and why the New Age was chosen ahead of any other national newspaper.”
 
However, Tlali pointed out: “The fact that the owners of this title [the New Age] may have some relations with the President or any other person for that matter, has nothing to do with our business decision to make the title available to our customers.”
 
SAA had not responded to further questions about the total spend on all newspapers per month at the time of publication.

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