Dr Wallace Mgoqi
THE is an age-old saying: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
It means that people who have faults should not criticise other people for having the same faults.
The raging battle between Dr Iqbal Survé and his 200 companies under the Sekunjalo Group of Companies on the one hand, and Nedbank and the other banks on the other hand, calls to mind this age-old saying.
The story begins when a young boy, growing up in the southern suburbs of Claremont/Kenilworth, from humble beginnings, used to sell newspapers – The Argus and The Cape Times – to earn extra money, and assist his struggling family.
He rose, by his own bootstraps, to qualify as a specialist doctor, practised for a while, built a community health facility in the Lansdowne area, where his medical practice was.
Later he became a businessman, and together with a group of friends started the Sekunjalo company. In time listed it on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, as one of few black empowered companies in the late1990s.
The company grew with small acquisitions here and there, until after the turn of the century. With the benefit of hindsight, he seems to have made the mistake of being black… He mobilised a consortium to buy Independent Media, of which he is today a majority shareholder, taking it away from white liberal control over many decades.
The purchase of Independent Media lies at the heart of the raging battle in which the banks have been drawn by the competitors of Independent Media, who have very powerful connections, both with white monopoly capital as well as the political oligarchy.
Things came to a head when the Sekunjalo Group of Companies entered into a deal facilitated by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), and all kinds of accusations and allegations, running into thousands of negative media articles against the person of this great son of the soil and shining example to our people, a great business man and philanthropist went wild against Dr Survé and his companies.
The plotting became thicker and thicker, leading to the appointment of the Mpati Commission, whose terms of reference were to investigate issues of governance at the PIC, but the media turned it all against Dr Survé and his group of companies, including AYO Technology Solutions, which was at the centre of the deal.
Since then, needless to say, the group has haemorrhaged terribly, but somehow has not collapsed. Needless to say, some hyenas were already knocking on its doors to pick up what they could get of a collapsing empire, but it was not yet to be.
Now as things would eventually work out, it transpires that Nedbank and the other banks do not have clean hands. Nedbank, in particular, to have been part of shady deals with Regiments and other companies, implicated in the State Capture Commission, which has recommended, among others, that Nedbank be investigated for its role in facilitating these deals that were involving corruption and fraud.
It also transpires that Nedbank and the other banks in moving against Dr Survé and his 200 companies, employing more than 2 000 employees, supporting more than 40 000 people, admitted in recent court proceedings when the presiding Judge Francis, asked its counsel why Nedbank did not close the accounts of the other companies, reported and known to have committed irregularities? The answer was that these companies had taken measures to reform… Effectively, they were extended the grace to reform.
Why the same grace was not extended to Dr Survé and his 200 companies, remains unanswered, possibly to be ventilated in the upcoming Equality Court and Competition Commission proceedings which the Sekunjalo Group has launched against all the banks that purported to close their accounts, in order to close these businesses, regardless of the consequences of their actions. This is something typical of the conduct of bullies in bullying their victims.
Is it possible that in targeting Dr Survé and his companies, they did not foresee that there would be resistance to their actions, and an exposure of what they truly are – bullies, and nothing else?
Did they not realise that they could be the one with a thin skull, that when the intended victim hits back, they too would be hurt. The jury is still out on this matter, it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh, and laugh best.
We are watching with keen interest as to what the outcome is likely to be. While the Sekunjalo Group lost round one, on technical grounds of the Cape High Court, claiming to lack jurisdiction on the matter of an interdict brought to it, soon the matter will be before the appropriate forums with jurisdiction over the matter and decide accordingly, once and for all.
The lesson remains that those who live in glass houses must not hasten to throw stones at others, lest their intended victims hit back at them to their chagrin.
Dr Wallace Mgoqi writes in his personal capacity.