Executive Editor of Business Report.
Executive Editor of Business Report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Can South African media houses focus on the job, please?

By Adri Senekal de Wet Time of article published Oct 22, 2018

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CAPE TOWN – Following months of fierce attacks by Independent Media’s competition, Tiso Blackstar (where did they get that name from?), where they used all the titles in their group, to discredit not only the chairperson of Indy, Dr Iqbal Survé and myself, (Ed Herbst even called me Survé’s Imbongi - meaning praise singer), I am writing this opinion piece.

I am tired of the continued attacks and counter attacks between South Africa’s media houses. As I said many times, let us, as responsible media partners, focus on the job. We became our country’s biggest enemy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa can try his utmost best as our Number One Ambassador, he can host job and investment summits, meet with business and labour as much as he can (and I salute him for that), but if you, as reader, or any potential investor, read day after day about the infighting between media houses, do you think this country will ever achieve the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP)?

Tiso, the owners of Business Day, Sunday Times and Financial Mail, targeted each and every company that Dr Survé (Doc) started, owns or owned shares in. I stopped counting the many front-page articles, opinions and analysis written by “editors at large”, reporters and so called “independent opinion contributors” of Tiso, attacking Indy and Doc, AYO Technologies, AEEI and the Sekunjalo Group. Doc wrote about this last week.

Now, Sekunjalo, one of the shareholders of Indy, means “Now is the Time”, and I’m writing this note to our readers, because NOW is indeed the time to reflect and dig deep, as editor of Business Report (BR) and ask myself one simple question: Why on earth are we, as media owners, fighting each other?

Indy never attacked Tiso, but we had to react to false (or fake) and untrue nonsense that Tiso used and continues to use, to try to bring Indy down.

Business Day (BD) recently approached some of BR’s top reporters, telling them that “we will bring Indy down by buying their (especially BR’s) top reporters; we will eat them from inside like a cancer”, the reporter, that turned down BD’s offer, told me. One reporter did accept the offer, though. I wish him well.

I’ve said many times that BD is NOT BR’s competition. BR focuses on independent reporting, informing our readers on company results, profiling black (and white) success stories, money and investment advice, as we say, “where to and what to” - meaning, where to get funding for projects and what to do to start a successful business.

Doc is passionate about this, and I quote him on a recent conversation we had: “Adri, you should focus more on articles that are meaningful to BR’s readers, you’ve got a national platform, give our people hope and a voice that they never had during the days of apartheid”.

I have known Doc for more than two decades. When I met him, he had just left his profession as a medical doctor and entered the world of business.

I worked at Rapport at the time. When he approached the media he was about to list the Sekunjalo Group on the JSE. The shareholders of the then Sekunjalo Group consisted mostly of previously disadvantaged individuals.

If you look at any company that Doc started, nothing has changed. His philosophy still is, and will always be, to allow previously disadvantaged people and communities an opportunity to create wealth.

Since he entered the world of business, thousands of jobs have been created, for black, white, coloured and Indian people. So, when Doc called me some years ago and told me he bought Indy from the Irish, I knew why. I actually worked with him before he bought Indy from the Irish.

Doc’s vision is reflected in what the editors of The Star, Cape Times, Mercury, Pretoria News, Isolezwe, Sunday Independent, Weekend Argus, Sunday Tribune, Diamond Fields Advisor (DFA), Daily Voice, Post, Business Report and Personal Finance, to name some of our titles, strive to offer our readers.

Doc doesn’t see colour, in fact, he spots talent and business opportunities, locally and globally. He re-invests his dividends in start-ups, he invites young black business leaders to serve on boards, he guides them and supports them with advice first, and then financially. He knows where they are coming from, he also grew up poor.

Now, why am I writing this, again?

Because I’m sick and tired of the media war between Indy and Tiso. I asked Mark Barnes, the chief executive of the Post Office, and an associate of Bonamour, the chief executive of Tiso at the time of Blackstar’s origin very recently (I’ve known Barnes for almost 25 years); I asked him to please advise Bonamour to stop the attacks on Indy. Barnes writes for BD and ST. He is also tired of this insane fight among media houses, he told me.

All eyes are on South Africa this week. It is the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBS) on Wednesday the 24th, the next day is the President’s Investment Summit in Johannesburg.

Independent invited economists, black business leaders, analysts, unions, entrepreneurs, women business owners, vendors and literally, people from the street, to share their views and expectations on the MTBPS and the Investment Summit. As editor, I would like to focus my mind on that, and NOT on preparing another counter attack on Tiso. But, I shall be ready.

The true story about Tiso hasn’t been written in full, yet. The dramatic drop in Tiso’s share price reflects the views of the market of this once proud and successful media house.


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