The Star Late Edition
The orchestrated smear campaign to undermine the Sekunjalo Group continues Adri Senekal de Wet
RAY MAHLAKA, a Business Maverick reporter, appears to have deliberately ignored critical hard facts when he published his “story” on the Daily Maverick platform yesterday. Mahlaka “reported” on the Sekunjalo Group’s presentation to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF) this week.
To better understand the facts and the various perspectives, Business Report will publish online Sekunjalo’s full presentation, which dealt with matters arising out of the Mpati Commission Report dealing with alleged impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
Sekunjalo, along with some of its investee companies, together with MMI Investments, which also registered legitimate concerns about the commission, had been invited by the SCoF to speak about their concerns.
Dispelling several of the hitherto accepted “truths” sprouted by various members of the establishment to date, Sekunjalo’s presentation highlighted key aspects of the report, countering them with the actual facts.
Sekunjalo chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé confirmed that the PIC had never made an investment in Sekunjalo Investment Holdings nor had it made an investment in Sagarmatha
Technologies. Importantly, the Mpati Commission and the subsequent report had made no adverse findings against Sekunjalo, AYO Technology Solutions, Premier Fishing or Independent Media.
He also reiterated that Sekunjalo did not “channel” funds to any of these companies, as suggested by Mahlaka. The funds were invested by the PIC against detailed pre-listing-statements or in-depth proposals that presented proper business cases.
Overlooked in Mahlaka’s article, for example, and in PIC chief executive Abel Sithole’s commentary, was that the PIC itself had invested in Independent Media, outside of Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM), the special purpose vehicle used to purchase
Independent Media. Clearly, the PIC considered Independent Media a good buy (as it did with Naspers, where, as confirmed by Sithole, it is over-exposed to the tune of R250 billion. That’s a lot of eggs in one basket.)
The reality, and something we have mentioned more than once, is that since Independent Media changed ownership in 2013, Survé has been a target and attacked from all sides, resulting in an avalanche of carefully curated story-lines spread far and wide that undermine and question Survé’s integrity, which have then spread to many of the organisations in which his company has invested. The questions as to why this may be are numerous and legendary.
It may well be that Survé is under fire because he is not a traditional newspaper man, or his political leanings differ from those of the establishment, or that he was the first person of colour to purchase a large and very influential media house in democratic South Africa and, therefore, has access to a larger share of the market than Independent Media’s competitors. It may even be because someone just doesn’t like him. It could be all of the above reasons or none at all.
Be that as it may, Survé was a very successful businessman long before
Independent Media and any interactions with the PIC.
He has a keen intellect and understanding of the digital environment and intrinsically understood the fundamental requirement to include the previously excluded majority in the day-to-day mix of news and stories. In the pursuit of equalising the news divide, he has ruffled more than a few feathers.
All that aside, the media, from whichever quarter they come, are still duty bound to report on the truth and in an unbiased and objective manner and without an agenda.
Mahlaka, for example, presents a one-sided narrative in his story. He reports on comments made by the PIC’s Sithole, but does not ever counter with what Sekunjalo stated in its presentation.
It is this kind of shaded perspective and reporting perpetuated by the “follow-me” media that has led to a single-sided narrative, which does not allow for any other version and most certainly not the truth or real facts.
Highlighting this, the Sekunjalo presentation to the SCoF detailed that: “Since the acquisition of Independent Media, more than 3 000 articles, targeting him (Survé), Independent Media and the Sekunjalo Group have been published, in print, radio, television and online, accompanied by lots of vitriol.”
Recent reports analysed by an impartial social media expert in this regard show how the Sekunjalo Group and Survé have been targeted by, among others, the Daily Maverick, News24, Primedia and Arena Holdings.
Dr Wallace Mgoqi, the chairperson of AYO, told the SCoF: “It cannot be ignored that the propaganda perpetuated by the toxic media resulted in the false and misleading narrative that was ultimately published in the Mpati Commission Report. This is not only unconstitutional, illegal, defamatory and discriminatory but goes against all values of democracy.”
Mahlaka’s narrow interpretation of Wednesday’s SCoF meeting also failed to report that, whereas the courts have their role to play, the PIC, which manages money on behalf of workers who belong to the Government Employees Pension Fund, and which is also accountable to Parliament, has a fiduciary duty to manage these monies wisely and that expensive and drawnout court battles should be the last resort, not the first or second.