Executive Editor of Business Report.
CAPE TOWN - I cannot say I was surprised by yet another attack on Sekunjalo and Independent Media chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé in a Sunday Times article yesterday.

But what really amazed me was that the writer, Warren Thompson, didn’t mention that Survé requested to testify at the PIC Commission of Inquiry, with the sole purpose to set the record straight.

What disappointed me was Thompson’s title, “Not so fast Dr Survé, as AYO plot thickens”. What plot dear Warren? You’ve got all the testimonies as I do, do you actually read and interpret it? Did you take the time to read Survé’s testimony on the April 2? I don’t think so.

I’m not going to, as Thompson did, use this platform to attack Tiso. Tiso’s titles are in trouble as it is, and many accused them of publishing fake news. That’s their problem.

As editor of Business Report (BR), I aim to offer our readers balanced articles, focusing on facts, allowing a voice for those previously deprived of that opportunity.

I invite young entrepreneurs and industry experts to contribute to BR and inspire the BR team to profile successful businesses from all walks of life. This is what this platform is about, not a tool to attack our competitors. Yes, at some point I fought back and will continue to do so, because I will protect this title and the future of the many young black and white journalists, men and women, employed by Independent.

I want to stop a moment with Survé’s testimony.

In his own words, Survé said “during the week commencing March 21, 2019, Advocate Lubbe SC, the evidence leader of the commission, called upon me to deal with eight interrelated issues in respect of three legal entities. I was advised that this may be of assistance to the commission in its deliberations.

“As a committed South African, I appreciate the opportunity to make my input. I point out that other than Independent Media (Pty) Ltd (‘Independent Media’), of which I am the chairperson of the board, I do not hold any office on the executive or otherwise in AYO Technology Solutions Limited (‘AYO’) and Sagarmatha Technologies Limited (‘Sagarmatha’).

“The issues that I have been requested to deal with in relation to AYO, Independent Media and Sagarmatha are in respect of the following:

  • The origination of every deal.
  • The meetings with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) with reference to date, place and PIC officials involved.
  • The status of Independent Media investment.
  • The relevance and importance of BT in the AYO transaction.
  • Whether the amount invested by the PIC is still available.
  • Whether the PIC paid transaction fees with regard to Independent Media and AYO, and if so, the amounts paid, the identity of the beneficiary and how the amount was calculated.
  • The appointment of a new board for AYO.

“I will endeavour to deal with each of the matters that are of interest to the commission and in so doing I make myself available to be interrogated by members of the commission as well as the evidence leader and undertake to respond fullest to the best of my ability.”

Survé’s testimony addressed all the questions as requested by Advocate Lubbe SC, the leader of the commission, sometimes a bit too extensively. I was there, listening to the testimony of a businessman I know for almost three decades. He was not only testifying, aiming to set the record straight but used the opportunity to, as always, remind South Africans that we should be proud South Africans, that we should work together to make South Africa a better place.

Our detractors chose not to report on that. Many articles followed after Survé’s testimony, although I stopped counting. Interesting is that those companies that wrote off billions of pensioners’ money, such as Lancaster, are treated with kid gloves. Survé was interrupted many times during his testimony, especially when he got passionate about opportunities for black South Africans. He stood his ground and refused to apologise for his passion to support black businesses.

Advocate Lubbe asked about Survé’s alleged interference in the media, using Independent’s titles to promote his businesses. My name as editor of BR was mentioned a couple of times. Disgruntled previous executive of AYO, Kevin Hardy, even went so far in his testimony to say that I pulled an article about AYO under Survé’s instruction. That is a lie. I challenge Hardy to confront me about this. I also have my emails, Mr Hardy.

The article was pulled because you did not comment in time. And yes, I said “severe pressure here” meaning that I was on deadline.

I want to remind those that testify, that you do so under oath. Please tell the truth. I also want to set the record straight on Dr Daniel Matjila attending the Raging Bull Awards event last year. I invited Matjila to address the first Raging Bull Investment Summit the morning before the Raging Bull Awards Event. Matjila agreed, but contacted me while I was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos during January 2018, informing me that he was called to Parliament and would, unfortunately, not be able to deliver the keynote address at the Investment Summit. I then asked him if he could attend the awards event that evening and say a few words and he agreed, but arrived late, and I kept a chair open for him at the main table. I invited Paul Mashatile (who was in Davos at the time) to deliver a keynote address at the Investment Summit, he agreed. His chair stayed unoccupied since he was not able to attend the awards dinner.

Of note is what is being written about what comes out of the commission. Some commentators take to social media about how Independent Media is covering the commission and completely ignore how other media are covering it. This is not to bash our competitors but what is most glaring is when they choose to go with a misinterpreted statement as fact. They have the audio-visual at their disposal as well as a transcript of events at the commission, but still get it wrong!

True journalists would check all angles to get to the truth before publishing, especially at an inquiry of this nature. The BR Live Editor laughed at the article by Thompson, saying that Survé called white people barbarians.

Sekunjalo has interests in a number of businesses and for the subsidiary companies to invite the chairperson to its events is a no-brainer. Also, what is key is to invite other captains of industry to events, so there is nothing sinister about having the PIC chairperson and the Sekunjalo chairperson sitting at the same table of an event organised by a division of Independent Media.

Why is no one raising questions about the Imagine Awards? Is it because that speaks the truth? Is it because that demonstrates how Survé shows support for the lower-classed black majority? We also would like to know how many chief executives have shared a table with the former PIC chief executive, the suspended PIC chief financial officer and acting chief executive, the PIC chairperson et al.

If the truth is told on this it will be the first time!