By Feroza Petersen
In a recent interview, Dr Iqbal Survé, Chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, shed light on the remarkable journey of Sekunjalo, a pioneering black company currently listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and an early member of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Despite its impactful legacy, Sekunjalo is now facing a myriad of challenges, prompting a bold move for justice and reparation.
Dr Survé emphasised Sekunjalo’s extensive global footprint, spanning investments across 40 countries, underscoring its pioneering role in promoting economic inclusivity post-apartheid. However, a significant shift in circumstances occurred after President Ramaphosa assumed office, with Dr Survé asserting that state entities and institutions were intentionally employed to obstruct Sekunjalo’s operations.
The laundry list of entities mentioned in Sekunjalo’s legal papers, including the Intelligence Services, the Financial Service Conduct Authority, and Treasury, vividly illustrates the depth of the alleged interference. Dr Survé pointed to the establishment of the Mpati Commission as a prime example of a targeted smear campaign, suggesting it was weaponised to tarnish Sekunjalo’s reputation.
Dr Survé drew a disconcerting parallel, likening the situation to a “mafia state”, where state power allegedly suppresses dissenting voices and obstructs legitimate business operations.
Highlighting the need to prevent the abuse of power, he stressed the importance of holding the president, his ministers, and the government accountable for their actions.
Sekunjalo’s legal pursuit, initiated through a notice under Section 3, is portrayed as a principled effort to seek accountability for losses suffered due to what Dr Survé perceives as orchestrated actions. The damages sought go beyond financial compensation; they represent a symbolic commitment to rectify what Sekunjalo views as a breach of accountability within South Africa’s political landscape.
Simultaneously, Sekunjalo announced its decision to pursue legal action against President Cyril Ramaphosa and various state organs, seeking approximately R75 billion in damages.
The group alleges years of unwarranted victimisation, with Dr Survé emphasising that this move is a last resort after enduring systematic persecution.
The catalyst for this legal action lies in what Sekunjalo describes as years of unjust actions by certain elements of the government, including the weaponisation of the Mpati Commission. Originally launched to investigate alleged misdemeanours at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the commission shifted its focus to Sekunjalo-associated companies, raising concerns about its fairness and impartiality.
Another distressing consequence of the State’s actions is the “Hollywood-style” raid conducted by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Sekunjalo’s offices.
Sekunjalo contends that the purpose behind the raid was to tarnish their public image, rather than conducting a bona fide investigation.
The collateral damage extends beyond financial implications, as Sekunjalo had to undergo restructuring as a result of ill reputation and lies propagated in some media outlets. This resulted in job losses, impacting the livelihoods of dedicated employees and their families.
Sekunjalo also lost significant clients due to the disruption caused by the alleged plan to discredit the company.
This raises a critical question: Why attack a company that is actively generating employment, especially at a time when unemployment levels are at an all-time high?
Sekunjalo’s legal actions spotlight concerns about potential abuse of power, lack of transparency, and the need for accountability within the government.
The company seeks not only financial compensation but also a broader commitment to fairness, accountability, and the protection of the rights of businesses, employees, and stakeholders in the country.
As the legal battles unfold, Dr Survé remains resolute, portraying Sekunjalo not as an aggressor but as an entity grappling with challenges imposed by state actions, aspiring to foster transparency and accountability within South Africa’s political landscape. The outcomes of these lawsuits may significantly impact the landscape of corporate-state relations in the country.
* The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.