CAPE TOWN - With only about 3 percent of black-owned companies listed on the JSE, Sekunjalo chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé has accused the exchange of being anti-transformation.
In an interview with Business Report, Survé said the Sekunjalo Group was disappointed at the numerous public statements made by JSE officials in public forums, especially about Sekunjalo investee companies, which include AYO Technology Solutions, Sagarmatha Technologies, African Equity Empowerment Investments and Premier Fishing Brands.
“It is our considered view that the JSE is making public statements about these companies based on hearsay and in response to media reports. In some respects, the JSE has not given these companies the courtesy of informing them first about these public statements or checking the factual correctness of these statements with these companies.
“Most recently, at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry, JSE officials did not disclose the correct facts in relation to the Sagarmatha listing,” said Survé.
Survé, who was at the International News Media Association conference two weeks ago, where Independent Media received three awards, expressed shock upon his return at the transcripts of the Commission of Inquiry into the PIC, where the JSE did not disclose correct facts with regard to the Sagarmatha listing.
He noted that the focus was only on AYO, Sagarmatha and Erin Energy, and there was hardly any mention of white-owned companies. Survé said by the JSE’s own admission it did not require an audit of interim results.
While he declined to comment on the outcome of AYO’s audited interim results, it was rather unusual for the JSE to focus on the tech firm.
“At least 20 companies that are listed on the JSE have provided inaccurate annual results.”
The JSE, in an unprecedented move, asked AYO to provide an audited review of the technology company’s interim results based on allegations made by former executives Kevin Hardy and Siphiwe Nodwele at the Commission of Inquiry into alleged improprieties at the PIC.
The general manager for issuer regulation at the JSE, Andries Visser, submitted at the Commission of Inquiry that the exchange had asked AYO to provide an audited version of its interim results.
Survé said it seemed that companies such as EOH, MTN, Steinhoff, Tongaat Hulett and numerous others that are seemingly implicated in fraudulent activities and corruption, according to media reports, and have cost shareholders hundreds of billions of rand in lost value are treated with kid gloves by the JSE.
Microsoft terminated two contracts with an EOH subsidiary, a move that saw JSE-listed EOH’s share price collapse by almost 30percent.
MTN is still reeling from a bloody nose dealt by the Hawks’ arrest of South Africa’s former ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, on corruption charges related to the award of a mobile phone licence to the group, while the company’s chief executive in Uganda was deported.
According to the Hawks, Saloojee was arrested for allegedly facilitating the reversal of the cellphone operating licence awarded to Turkcell, which was later handed to MTN SA.
Tongaat Hulett is in the midst of a scandal that may see it restate previously released financial information and having to do a rights offer to stay afloat.
Survé said: “It’s unfortunate that the JSE seems to treat many white-owned companies such as the above companies very differently to the way it treats Sekunjalo investee companies, and this smacks of double standards and an anti-transformation agenda.”
The outspoken Sekunjalo chairperson pointed out that it was not acceptable that 25 years into the new South Africa, only 3 percent of the JSE was under black ownership and management control.
“This is not aligned to the objectives of a more inclusive economy.
“It is my considered view that championing the cause of economic transformation and inclusivity has resulted in the JSE acting punitively against the companies in which Sekunjalo has significant shareholdings. This goes against the key tenets of our Constitution and our right to freedom of speech to champion transformation,” he said.
Survé said the seeming bias of the JSE suggested that the JSE did not wish to support black companies listed on the exchange and which had entered the untransformed capital markets.
“Based on good authority, I have reason to believe that the JSE is guilty of harassing, intimidating and victimising Sekunjalo investee companies. I have written to the JSE chief executive expressing my strongest condemnation at the JSE in relation to our investee firms.”
He said the JSE treated Sekunjalo investee companies very differently to the way it treated companies that happened to be white-owned and managed and were guilty of significant transgressions and corporate governance failures.
Survé said while Sekunjalo’s investee companies have an exemplary track record on the JSE, human error must be considered and management can sometimes err in its processes and Sekunjalo urges the management teams to be vigilant when going about their business.
Such minor transgressions within Sekunjalo’s investee companies are treated by the JSE in a more punitive way than major transgressions by white-owned or managed companies.
“The Sekunjalo group and its thousands of employees and associates are proud of its contribution to the fight for the freedom of our country, and we will continue to champion these freedoms and the transformation of our economy, notwithstanding any attempts deliberate or otherwise to rebuff the transformation trajectory,” said Survé.
He said it was incumbent on the Sekunjalo group, on behalf of South Africa’s black business sector, to stand firm in championing the transformation agenda, defending the right of black businesses to exist and the right to be included in the capital markets.
Survé said he has remained silent and restrained amid negative statements, but would no longer be quiet and would not hesitate to speak out against the unfair treatment of Sekunjalo’s investee companies.