It was an ANN7th heaven for satirists
... and the revelations in the new tell-all book are just the tip of the large, floating lump of frozen water
Rajesh Sundaram’s new book, Indentured: Behind the Scenes At Gupta TV, is going to fly off the shelves. If he ever brings out a vastly shortened and heavily illustrated version, it will almost certainly also fly out of the window of the master bedroom at Nkandla and splash down in the firepool.
Yes, people are not going to be happy about what Mr Sundaram – the first and apparently only editor at ANN7 – has revealed about the comically bad propaganda department of Zupta Inc.Still, it could have been worse. Because, while Mr Sundaram has revealed what he knew, I have no doubt there were secret meetings and confidential memos where even more fantastical and hilarious decisions were made.
We know, for example, that Mr Zuma wanted Mzwanele Manyi to host a talk show, an idea that was canned when Manyi proved entirely unable to pitch even softball questions, preferring to roll balls of candyfloss across the floor.
Which is why I can easily imagine a station-wide memo explaining that all future Q&As with the president should be limited to three easy-to-remember questions: “Is it just me or have you been working out?”, “Did you hurt yourself when you fell from heaven?” and, once the ice has been broken, “What would you like to talk about without interruption for the next 45 minutes, and is that intern you’re using as a footrest OK or can we get you a less fidgety one?”Having said that, I don’t want to diminish how hard it must be to run a propaganda machine when your only supporters are the president and his cabinet and your only backers are taxpayers.
For example, it must have been incredibly difficult to find staff for both ANN7 and the New Age given their strict employment criteria: at least five hours’ worth of journalism experience plus a photograph, not older than three months, of the applicant clearly appearing in a “human centipede” scenario with either an ANC politician or state captor.
Then there would have been the daily visit down to the quarantine room to check on the new consignment of interns shipped over from India that weekend, to make sure none of them were asking questions or reading an actual newspaper while they waited to have their temporary work permits signed by Malusi Gigaba’s au pair.And that’s not even counting the hourly appeal to staff not to use air quotes when referring to Manyi as the “owner” of the media group.
Add to that the strain of producing content – like remembering to add a zero to every estimate of a BLF gathering, lifting estimates comfortably into double figures – and you have an administrative nightmare.
Yes sir, Mr Sundaram has lifted the lid on a can of worms. Or, as Mr Manyi and his employees would describe it, a durable and shiny container full of protein-rich micro-fauna.