ON AUGUST 23, 2019 the chief executive of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Tshokolo Nchocho told Parliament that in 2006, IDC provided a funding amount of R4 million to Yugoslavian-born Branislav “Branko” Brkic’s Business Century Publishing, which owned The Maverick Magazine … only R832 500 was repaid.
The company ceased operation and was liquidated in or about October 2008 and the remainder of the funding has never been publicly accounted for.
Today, Brkic’s new baby, The Daily Maverick, is registered as a private (profit-making) company, which under the guise of altruistic reporting, encourages “members” to “join” the platform at a cost of R200 a month. Apart from being able to comment on the published stories, it’s not clear what other benefits a “member” enjoys – if any.
Brkic’s publishing platform, which masquerades as a stronghold of independent reporting and South Africa’s (self-appointed) truth investigators, has never disclosed its financial status to it’s subscribers who are effectively partof its funders. Look under the hood and the picture is not quite as they would have us all believe, with a series of direct and indirect links to South Africa’s criminal underworld. These connections and cash flows have been heavily guarded and kept secret … until now.
As previously reported by Independent Media’s investigations unit, a report by the non-profit organization, Forensics For Justice, found that Brkic’s previous misadventure into publishing, The Maverick Magazine, collapsed in ruins, after a low-cost airline stopped distributing its magazines, free of charge, to passengers.
“This took the magazine’s circulation from above 20 000 per month to below 5 000 per month, making it the most expensive print advertising in South Africa. The Maverick Magazine advertisers, realising the sudden lack of value, pulled the plug and the wheels came off. When the liquidation was over, investors had lost millions of rand. This included millions of tax-payer funds, lost through an unpaid loan from the IDC,” reads the report.
Technology entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jr is credited with being The Daily Maverick’s first investor. He also introduced Brkic to Charalambous, whose business connections include the likes of Varejes, and Stemmet, both of whom are closely linked to underworld characters Agliotti and corrupt (now deceased) former chief of police, Selebi.
The Daily Maverick regularly trumpets its moral high ground stance – to anyone who will listen and anyone it can convince to “support” them and the exposure of the “truth” – their version of it anyway.
In some ways, one must admire Daily Maverick’s ability to manipulate human psyche and gullibility, convincing us mere mortals that they are the trusted truth keepers, after all, as ordinary people, we all want to believe that the bad guys can be exposed, caught, and stopped. Except in the case of when the bad guys are feeding and controlling the narrative – the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred.
Take the case of “State Capture” for example. The Daily Maverick regularly indoctrinates its readers that it, and it alone, exposed the corruption that has brought South Africa to its knees. Wrong. They were not alone, and neither were they the first to blow the whistle on the wholesale thievery of the state coffers.
Yet, The Daily Maverick have been able to convince many a donor/funder/patron or two, to part with their wealth to help bolster their “efforts” and shore up a business Brkic tells his supporters is “running on fumes”. Add to that the monthly membership fees of about 16 000 paid-up members and that’s not an insubstantial amount of monthly revenue.
As to why it is anyone would “invest” in a business that is flagging in energy, purportedly on empty, and whose returns are somewhat questionable, is anyone’s guess, although the controlling of a country’s narrative some could argue, is priceless.
In 2018, The Daily Maverick raised a total of $842 700 (about R12.9 million at today’s exchange rates) in funding over two rounds. Their latest funding was raised on November 27, 2018, from a Grant round, according to crunchbase.com.
Some of the funders include Alan Knott-Craig Jr, Oppenheimer family, Wendy Appelbaum and Lauritz “Laurie” Dippenaar.
Perhaps Shakespeare said it best: “Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but at the length, truth will out.”