When former communications minister Yunus Carrim was accused of possible corruption he gave a surprising response – “What am I going to do with the money?”.
This formed part of his testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
Carrim said in one of his discussions with former Naspers CEO Koos Bekker it was insinuated that he was “in the power of eTV”.
The former communications minister added that he was basically told that he was corrupt. “I told him that’s outrageous,” said Carrim.
“I asked Mr Bekker, as I remember it, look man – what will I do? I’m so overpaid as a Minister, what am I going to do with the money? How many novels am I going to buy?” Carrim asked.
He added that he gives a lot of his money away and that he does not need money from corruption as insinuated by Bekker.
“I drove a 2001 Toyota Corolla in 2014 and I drive a 2005 Scenic. What will I do with the money [from alleged corruption]?” he asked.
Carrim wants an apology
Carrim said he wants an apology from MultiChoice for accusing him of corruption, which he is not guilty of.
“I do not want my grandchildren Googling one day that their grandfather, who presented himself as a socialist and as progressive who gave money away, actually took a bribe from eTV,” he said.
“I cannot take that. I do not care whether I am the Minister or not. All I have at the end of the day is my integrity.”
According to Carrim, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela did apologise in person and said he does not believe the minister was corrupt.
Mawela also released a statement which said a MultiChoice open letter “was in no way intended to cast aspersions on the integrity of the former Minister of Communications”.
Carrim said this apology was not adequate because “Mr Koos Bekker did not apologize” and it was not published on their website.
Big allegations against MultiChoice
During his testimony, Carrim made various allegations against MultiChoice and its opposition to signal encryption.
According to the former minister, MultiChoice used underhanded tactics to stop signal encryption and keep pay-TV competition at bay.
He said a R553-million deal between MultiChoice and the SABC was all about ensuring that there was no signal encryption in South Africa’s digital TV specification.
Carrim also accused MultiChoice of threatening companies that they would be dropped from the DStv platform if they supported encryption.
He also blamed MultiChoice and Naspers for holding back digital migration and freeing up valuable spectrum in South Africa.
He said lobbying by MultiChoice was very primitive and caused a huge setback to the digital migration process.
MultiChoice denies the allegations
MultiChoice and its officials denied Carrim’s allegations concerning the company, calling them baseless.
They added that Carrim said under oath that “he cannot attest to having personal knowledge of any fraud or corruption in respect of the SABC and MultiChoice agreement”.
“We have informed the Zondo Commission that we will respond to the allegations made against us in due course and reserve all of our rights,” MultiChoice said.