The National Association for Manufacturers in Electronic Components (Namec) has said it is not surprised that MultiChoice was involved in state capture.
Namec was referencing former communications minister Yunus Carrim’s testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
During his testimony, Carrim made allegations against MultiChoice and Naspers and their opposition to signal encryption.
According to the former minister, MultiChoice used underhanded tactics to stop signal encryption as part of its strategy to 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 telling companies that they would be dropped from the DStv platform if they supported encryption.
He blamed MultiChoice and Naspers for holding back digital migration and freeing up valuable spectrum in South Africa.
He added that lobbying by MultiChoice was very primitive and caused a huge setback to the digital migration process.
Namec said in a press statement that it was “neither shocked nor surprised by the revelations that MultiChoice was involved in the capture of our state”.
The organisation said the revelations confirmed its long-held suspicion “that sinister forces were at play to stall the digital migration process to benefit themselves by further entrenching their monopoly in the digital television market”.
“Anyone, including Namec, that stood in their way will be corrupted, at best or decimated, at worst,” acting secretary general of Namec, Aubrey Tsaoane said.
“We find MultiChoice’s (illegal) actions unpardonable and call on the law enforcement agencies and Zondo Commission to thoroughly investigate and bring to book all those implicated.”
He said people who conspired to subvert the state and bring harm to emerging companies should be brought to book.
Digital migration deadlines missed
Tsaoane highlighted that South Africa has missed the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline for digital migration of 2015 and its self-imposed deadline of June 2019.
“We are also running a risk of missing the July 2020 deadline if urgent steps are not taken to accelerate digital migration,” he said.
The stalling of the migration process has led to South Africa not benefiting from the developments in the ICT space.
“This is all thanks to the shenanigans of MultiChoice and those who assisted them,” Tsaoane said.
“There has to be accountability for the destruction to our economy and subversion of our state by Naspers, MultiChoice, and their co-conspirators.”
Tsaoane said Namec is intensifying its efforts to nudge law enforcement agencies to act whilst preparing for an appearance at the Zondo Commission.
Namec is also initiating class action for the financial and other losses its members incurred.
MultiChoice denies the allegations
MultiChoice and its officials have 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.