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An injustice is committed by banks on Iqbal Survé and the Sekunjalo Group

Sekunjalo chairman Dr Iqbal Survé. The writer says one would have thought that by now Survé would have been cowed into submission but being the principled man he is having overcome many obstacles he is today a self-made man, a man who could go out and sustain himself, he is not beholden to any person or party for his daily sustenance and survival.

Sekunjalo chairman Dr Iqbal Survé. The writer says one would have thought that by now Survé would have been cowed into submission but being the principled man he is having overcome many obstacles he is today a self-made man, a man who could go out and sustain himself, he is not beholden to any person or party for his daily sustenance and survival.

Published May 9, 2022

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Masibongwe Sihlahla

GENERAL Shazli a famous Egyptian once said: “Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused.” If one reads the newspapers over the last few weeks one can clearly detect a concerted and sustained effort to vilify and character assassinate Sekunjalo Group of Companies and Dr Iqbal Survé respectively.

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This is not by accident but by a deliberate ploy to undermine the dignity and character of Survé and by association with the companies he directs.

One would have thought that by now Survé would have been cowed into submission but being the principled man he is having overcome many obstacles he is today a self-made man, a man who could go out and sustain himself, he is not beholden to any person or party for his daily sustenance and survival. In our capitalist world that is a dangerous notion.

A few years ago, Mittal, an Indian metal company wanted to buy a French metal company and internationally there was a huge outcry. It was only when CNN ran an article pointing out that there are hundreds of French companies owned by Italian, German, British, Dutch etc companies, so why the hue and cry when an Indian metal giant wants to buy a French company? Ridiculous as it sounds it boiled down to raw unashamed racism, how dare a black-owned Indian company wants to buy a white European company?

As we know now that amongst European and American metal companies there is capitalist collusion to push up the price of stainless steel etc to keep it artificially high to maximise profits for the owners.

Likewise in South Africa, not one national large company was owned by any black person until the coming of a democratic South Africa. Survé due to his faith always believed that there is no point in Political Freedom when the black workers are not Financially or Economically Free too.

Capitalism by its very nature needs to have the majority in dire poverty so that a few can enjoy the benefits of capitalism.

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This immediately caused Survé to become a target to those who needed the status quo to remain as agreed to at the Kempton Park negotiations, South Africa will have not had a capitalist economy nor a socialist economy but a mixed economy. Survé immediately set about to ensure that the wealth of this country gets to be distributed and enjoyed by even the least ranking worker through Black Empowerment where poor black workers can pluck the fruits of their labour and not die in abject poverty as was the case all the years since Van Riebeeck landed here.

Survé persisted in living out his faith in seeking Financial or Economic Justice for all, he knows from his faith that there can be no peace without justice. As long as there is no economic justice there will be no peace. This was a dangerous notion he taught black workers. In a time of capitalist deceit speaking the truth sets you up to be a target of those who see such talk as anticapitalist, as anti-establishment (an establishment based on pure, unadulterated capitalism).

The first attack was to undermine the character of Survé, he was mocked and his integrity questioned in sustained attacks in the media. They thought he would capitulate but being the morally strong person that he is he thrived amongst this onslaught as his faith carried him through.

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When this did not help he became the target of a book reviling him for daring to take over the Cape Times so that it no longer becomes a mouthpiece for capitalism. Sad but true, most people’s opinions are formed by reading the newspapers. Survé as an intelligent, critically thinking man know this and as part of his uplifting people he knew getting control of some media is in the interest of the oppressed so that they may be subject to more fair news reporting.

We remember how the ANC and Mandela were called terrorists by the Western capitalist media and guerrilla fighters by more friendly media. Survé knew that having survived so many attempts to close down his project in real broad-based black empowerment that the tact and vitriol of the attack will change.

He thus made sure that in running his companies that everything must be done above board as he will be under the loupe at all times. Survé has ensured in many talks and as a policy that there must be transparency and openness in his companies when dealing with any government of NGO authorities.

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Executive and board members can recall how Survé has exhorted personally and as policy in his company that all reporting must be done in the public interest eg financial statements and public statements to that effect must be done in a manner that any ordinary member or shareholder can understand without running to Google to try to comprehend what is being said.

We remember the days when Mbeki speaks even the journalists had to reach for the dictionaries. Not so Survé in his dealings with the public. He has personally overseen that the company profile on the internet is clear and contains all the relevant information so that any member of the public especially the adversarial journalists can see the future direction in terms of future profitability and return on investments the company will take.

From the company website, it is clear that Survé has a belief that full public disclosure is in the interest of all and thus no one can harbour the belief that the company has something to hide. This policy as insignificant it may seem has contributed to the share price of Sekunjalo companies increasing in value.

Survé has believed that providing all relevant information to those who have an interest in it is not enough and his workers and subordinates can bear him out that he has instilled a culture of accountability in his companies having learnt first-hand as an apartheid victim how a culture of impunity under apartheid lead to the death squad and places like Vlakplaas under FW de Klerk a man with much innocent blood on his hands but who was awarded a peace prize.

In the face of the animosity from certain sectors of society who would not want Survé to succeed he also ensured that he personally vouch for the chain of communication from every executive and board member when it comes to reporting to the public and relevant state authorities regarding the financial management of the company. This is unheard of in any other company I daresay.

Survé also has ensured that investors are able to understand the company's financial information by ensuring that it is easy to digest without complicated analysis. He always maintains that investors must be data-savvy so need to be informed on how to interpret the data the company provides. It is no use your company gives information your investors make no head or tail of it. Not many companies can lay claim to such practices and objectives as Survé and his company has.

Masibongwe Sihlahla is an independent writer.

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