OPINION: Unethical and fake news should be criminalised

Sagarmatha Logo.

Sagarmatha Logo.

Published Apr 9, 2018


CAPE TOWN - As editor of Business Report, I condemn the deliberate, vicious and dishonest campaign by competing media houses and detractors to undermine the listing of Sagarmatha Technologies on the JSE later this week. On Friday, to be exact.

I have watched in disgust how competitor media owners tried to undermine the chairperson of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé, since he acquired the Independent five years ago. The latest attempt by Sam Sole from amaBhungane is nothing but fake news on steroids.

It is a sign of desperation by competitors who feel threatened that Sagarmatha, and Independent’s, platform business will compete with them and potentially force them into bankruptcy.

Sole wrote: “Independent newspaper titles have carried a blizzard of material punting Sagarmatha in recent days, from four-page wrap-around advertorial, to breathless puff pieces from his chief cheerleader, Adri Senekal de Wet, the editor of Business Report.

“She has hyped Sagarmatha as an ‘African Unicorn’, employing American terminology where a technology start-up valued at more than a billion dollars is termed a unicorn.”

My question: Why are our competition so obsessed with the businesses of our chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé?

It seems as if this African-born black entrepreneur, who serves on a number of multi-lateral institutions and global organisations (and who has recently been appointed as the chairperson of Brics), just can’t do anything right - well in the eyes of our competitors, only.

Is it because he outsmarts them? Is it because he has vision and invested silently in research and technology and, under his leadership, Independent won more global awards from industry giants such as INMA and WAN in the last four years than all the other media companies combined in South Africa?

The facts are that Dr Survé is a globally respected business leader. Why will Siemens, Nokia, Saab, BT, the World Economic Forum and members of the Brics Business Council (and various other global business councils) appoint Dr Survé on their boards, invite him as a partner in their businesses and not the chief executive of Tiso Blackstar, Andrew Bonamour, or Branco Brkic, owner of the Daily Maverick.

I have to ask Sole who wrote a pathetic “opinion” and called it “investigative journalism”, over the weekend, what is your intent with the nothing more than fake news (that would even give Donald Trump gooseflesh) that you published two days ago?

What a journalistic disaster. If I ever publish such without allowing the company a right to reply, I would be sanctioned by our ombudsman and might lose my job as editor.


It is crystal clear to me that our competitors and detractors want to dominate the media, that they are monopolistic, selfish and anti-transformation and most definitely don’t support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea for an inclusive economy for the new South Africa we voted for.

Why are they so desperate to root out a black competitor in the market place?

Is it that they wish to kill the spirit of an African entrepreneur, who has at heart the interest of thousands of South Africans, black and white, and millions of Africans?

Why attack the intentions of an investor and business leader that creates thousands of jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs since he started his journey as businessman almost 20 years ago. What did he do wrong?

Every investment Dr Survé initiated over more than three decades, was intended to created opportunities for Africans. I know. I was there.

Are we still, after 24 years of democracy, faced with an untransformed and monopolistic competitor media that does not allow new (and specifically black) entrants?

Monopolies ran the economy during the apartheid years in the media sector and it seems that they are (still) not used to competition.

Can it be true that the continuous onslaught on Independent is about control and dominance in the media industry?

Remember, Sekunjalo’s acquisition of Independent was a significant transformation move which gave voices to a diversity of people for the first time and changed the ownership pattern of the media industry.

It is known that since Sekunjalo consortium acquired Independent, Sekunjalo has been subjected to the most vicious and dishonest attacks by competitor media houses.

I’ve been called various names since I was appointed as editor. From Dr Survé’s spin-doctor, queen bee and now, chief cheerleader. What crap. I know Doc for almost 2 and a half decades.

My message to Business Report readers is clear: We will not give up,'we are not intimidated by attempts by our local competitors to engage actively with our investors, shareholders and international advisory board members pleading with them to “disassociate themselves from the company”.

If Dr Survé is subjected to this as he attempts to transform the economy, what chance will the average person of colour have? Why don’t you explain to South Africa why you are trying to discourage investments into Africa?

I invite interested editors and journalists to challenge our chairperson and myself to partake in a national live debate on multi-sided platform companies and their value.



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