Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with Chief of staff at the Public Protectors office Sbusiso Nyembe. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Amid growing calls from various sectors to the Public Investment Corporation to halt the “racially motivated” liquidation application against Sekunjalo Independent Media, the Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane says closing down the media giant would narrow the number of media voices in the country. 

Mkhwebane said that while in some instances the media is used as a propaganda tool, it would be suicidal for South Africa’s news media space to have a select few media houses controlling the narrative.

She was speaking on Wednesday in Durban where she was engaging with a range of political and civic organisations. 

Mkhwebane said the media is a powerful tool as she responded to diverse questions from participants that ranged from the issue of the constitution, the Reserve Bank and her relationship with government departments. 

She, however, lamented that media is used by those with the means to fix narratives and said nonetheless, some media houses are willing to go against the tide and report factually, without taking sides. As such, they should be supported.

While answering the questions, she touched on the issue of SIM (which owns Independent Media) which is facing a “racially motivated” move to liquidate it by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) over monies it loaned in 2013. 

 Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane says closing down Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) should not be allowed as that would narrow the number of media voices. Video: Sihle Mavuso

Making closing remarks at the same gathering, the President of the African People’s Convention (APC) Themba Godi said media houses that are always ready to provide a contrary narrative, like Independent Media, should be supported. 

 Themba Godi, the President of the APC, says media houses that are always ready to provide a contrary narrative should be supported. Video: Sihle Mavuso

Godi used the example of how Independent Media meticulously mined the CR17 bank statement leaks when other media houses were reluctant to do so. 

The now sealed bank statements revealed how President Cyril Ramaphosa went to the 2017 Nasrec ANC conference with a war chest of R1 billion and some of the money came from graft-tainted entities like Bosasa. 

SIM says it is ready to defend the “frivolous” application by the PIC and it has on many occasions indicated that it is business as usual at Independent Media, the subsidiary it bought from the previous Irish owners in 2013. 

Political Bureau