The Premier of the Mpumalanga province has slammed weekend media reports of his government intending to seal a new deal with the Gupta family to establish a new provincial newspaper.

Premier David Mabuza said he never promised anything to anybody.

“Allowing the New Age to make presentations and proposals, just like the other media houses, should not be viewed as an indication that we are committed to do business with them.

“We hope journalists will desist from publishing fake news as credible news,” his spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said in a statement.

The Sunday Times on 5 February 2017 reported that tender documents allegedly seen by them showed that the Gupta family wants a state tender to establish a new newspaper in order to run news of the programmes of Mabuzaís government.

The paper said the Gupta proposed draft for the new newspaper is similar to one the family made last year for the Mpumalanga government to subscribe to get The New Age copies delivered daily to all of its departments.

“It is common cause that the provincial government receives approaches from various organisations and service providers, including the media houses who seek to supply or partner with the provincial government.

“The office of the Premier has previously received presentations and proposals from SABC, Independent News and Capricorn FM,” Mncwango said on Sunday.

“We wish to emphasise that there was no decision taken by the executive council to partner with [The] New Age,” said Mncwango.

“Their presentation is no different from [that of] other media houses which have also submitted proposals.

“The director-general had indicated that the communications directorate in the office of the Premier should prepare for an open tender once a budget is available but the office of the Premier wishes to state that we are nowhere near to that process, however when the time comes, all those media houses, and others, that have presented on how they could enhance the communication function of the provincial government would be invited through an open tender process to respond.

“We will welcome further, more proposals that would add value on our work,” Mncwango said.

(edited by MLM)

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