Sekunjalo Group hits back at detractors

Some of the publications under the Independent Media umbrella. Picture: Bathini Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Some of the publications under the Independent Media umbrella. Picture: Bathini Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 12, 2023


INDEPENDENT Media chairman Dr Iqbal Survé has hit back at detractors, saying every time President Cyril Ramaphosa or ministers in his cabinet are exposed for their corruption, the Daily Maverick and News24 are used to deflect attention by attacking him, Sekunjalo, and Independent Media.

A statement released by Sekunjalo reads: “Using these propaganda arms against us, is the politician’s way of putting pressure on Sekunjalo to not publish the truth.

“Sekunjalo has been the victim of a concerted campaign by the Ramaphosa administration, deployed through their proxies, in particular the banking sector, to shut us out of the economy of South Africa and silence us so that they can continue unhindered with their objective to enslave the South African people into lifelong poverty.”

A dependent populace is, after all, open to manipulation and control, and that is the end game here, reads the statement. The private sector, which includes the banks, is still largely ordered by those who have historically benefited from apartheid and who still do.

The Daily Maverick’s Tim Cohen took a potshot at Independent Media for its recent restructuring process, describing it as a blow to shareholders, including the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

Cohen’s assertion is factually incorrect. The PIC has no interest in independent Media. “Oh, how short are the memories of man and media…

“Like all media houses in the world, especially print media houses, there has been a need to re-strategise and restructure in the face of fast news and the ever-increasing spread of digital. Covid-19 saw so many of our colleagues in the media—here and worldwide—close shop for good or drastically trim their numbers.

“Independent Media did not. But the time has now come, and despite valiant efforts, which have cost the Sekunjalo Group around R1.2 billion, staff must now be retrenched.

“For this, Independent Media and Sekunjalo have been harassed and crucified by some of the very same media companies, who themselves faced cutbacks. Yet, there is no such attack or focus on fellow competitors, such as Arena Holdings for example.

“This apparent bias and these double standards serve to reinforce our belief that we are targets of a campaign against us,” Sekunjalo said.

Sekunjalo said if Independent Media failed to restructure, it would be called mismanagement. But then when it does, it’s also called mismanagement. However, when other businesses restructure, it is called good business. “This is utter hypocrisy, and as in the case of Tim Cohen’s recent piece, a dose of what looks like sheer Schadenfreude.”

To fully control and brainwash the people, it is vital to destroy media freedom in this country, thus creating the way for a single narrative. “But we will not go without a fight. Nor will we go quietly.

“Because of our resilience and belief in the rights of the ordinary man, woman, and child, the campaign then required a different tack. Thus, several state institutions are now being used to keep us busy with legal battles to deplete our human and financial resources and to divert us from focusing on our businesses.

“These state institutions are also bolstered in their mission by some of the country’s regulators, who have also had our listed entities drowning in needless paperwork.

“This has been a five-year terror campaign against the Sekunjalo group, which has had an enormous impact on our businesses. Despite this, we have continued to conduct our business with absolute integrity, look after our employees, and work with our customers and suppliers to deliver services to the public and private sectors,” Sekunjalo said.

The company said it was only due to the spirit of its employees that Sekunjalo had been able to survive this vicious onslaught. “With our teams’ support, it is our firm belief that we will protect our right to exist, our right to do business, and our right to media freedom in South Africa.”

The attack on the entire Sekunjalo Group is a concentrated microcosm of what is playing out across the land and how it is affecting ordinary citizens. Rampant corruption has bred a total disrespect for the rule of law, as witnessed in the tsunami of crime here. There is a total breakdown in morals and societal values.

The company described the Daily Maverick as a propaganda tool. “Its launch of a print publication was only possible with several millions pumped into this famed venture, which is to undermine the strength and widespread popularity of Independent Media and its titles.

“However, foundations built on rocks are stronger than castles in the air, and as Independent Media is firmly rooted in the hearts and minds of most people in this country because it has remained true to the values of social democracy, justice, freedom, and human rights, Independent Media has and will, endure.”

The company said another media house, whose elasticity enjoys being stretched, was News24, which is part of the Broederbond-funded organisation Naspers, who has been known to dance with whoever is in power at the time.

“For them, Ramaphosa and his government are the ideal means through which to conduct business as usual, even if it means they flirt with the truth about the origin of the dollars on Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm.

“Everybody in the world knows there were millions of dollars on this farm and that the thieves stole between them about $8 million. It is only the Daily Maverick and News24 that continue to propagate the fiction that a Sudanese businessman came to buy Buffalo on Christmas Day,” reads the statement.

By failing to report openly on what constitutes corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion by anyone’s books, these two ‘news’ organisations could be considered complicit, Sekunjalo said. This is a dark day in the history of free press in this country, and the journalists should be disgusted by how easily their bosses have become cheerleaders for a corrupt administration.

Survé sent a personal message to those pulling the strings and everyone like them: “As you were once before defeated over apartheid, we will defeat you again. Independent Media and Sekunjalo are the soul of black progressive forces in the country.

“While you may currently believe you have the upper hand, think again. South Africans will rise in their millions to expose you for being nothing but charlatans of media freedom. South Africans are seeing through the propaganda, and as the only authentic voice of justice and truth that represents the interests of all South Africans—black and white—the Independent Media Group is going nowhere. Neither is Sekunjalo.

“You do not intimidate us. We will not allow the Ramaphosa administration to take away our freedom and the freedom of all South Africans. You have been duly advised.”