Former president Jacob Zuma was actively involved in the running of the now defunct TV news channel ANN7, the state capture inquiry heard on Monday.

Testifying at the Zondo commission on Monday, ANN7’s former editor, Rajesh Sundaram, said although Duduzane Zuma, the son of the former president, was a shareholder, his involvement was minimal. 

Sundaram told the inquiry’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Zuma had a “much bigger interest” in the station.

He told the commission about how he got the sense that the Guptas had good ties with the president. “President Zuma was very warm toward them.”

Sundaram had travelled from India to South Africa to testify at the commission.

LIVE: Atul instructed ANN7 to ‘hire models’ because journalists refused to work with Guptas – Sundaram at #StateCaptureInquiry

He said Zuma had an issue with mainstream media and that it had not given him an opportunity to present his views.

Sundaram also claimed that Zuma had found the repetitive bulletins on eNCA “boring” and he wanted something fresh for ANN7. 

He told the commission that Zuma did not want ANN7 to be an “out-and-out” propaganda channel and he did not want it to block his rivals entirely. He said the former president did not want it to be too obvious that the channel had ANC links.

Sundaram added that The New Age (TNA) business breakfasts were also discussed with Zuma, saying that if the Guptas had any problems getting ministers to attend or to secure funding for the breakfasts, the Guptas would inform Zuma. 

Sundaram detailed Zuma’s direct hand in the creation of the now defunct news channel in his book, Indentured – Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV.

The experienced journalist, tasked with giving the channel a running start, also told the commission that he regretted setting up a news channel, which was used by the “mafia” for “propaganda”. 

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