ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has slammed threats by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to liquidate Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM).

Duarte on Thursday expressed concerns over the state-owned asset management company’s targeting of the media group, after the PIC indicated on Tuesday it would file a liquidation application. She said although the threats were absurd, they were equally concerning.

“The Independent Media brand has existed for decades and decades, under different ownership. Is it a problem now that it is owned by the indigenous people of South Africa? As the ANC, we are applying our minds to what the cause of this really is but I can tell you that this makes no sense,” Duarte said.

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African People’s Convention (APC) leader and former standing committee on public accounts chairperson Themba Godi has since announced that he would host a public dialogue in Soweto on Sunday to galvanise support for the protection of journalists, Independent Media and its chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé.

On Wednesday, the Pan Africanist Party of Azania called on South Africans, and in particular the ANC, to not allow the “onslaught” on the publishing company to continue Pan Africanist Party of Azania held a round-table discussion to offer support to Independent Media staff and Survé, highlighting that anti-transformation forces have targeted the media organisation because of its revelations on the SA Revenue Service (Sars) rogue unit and other hidden acts of some ANC leaders.

“Of course they want to shut down Independent Media. It’s the only media black people have left. It will be a tragedy if Independent Media can no longer publish the stories they are publishing. This is an assault on media and black people in general,” the party said.

Takudzwa Hove, SIM spokesperson, said the PIC’s application was “frivolous”, as it appeared to have intentionally omitted certain factual and legal considerations relevant to the matter.

“If it had included it, it would have made its application a nullity,” said Hove. "Dr Iqbal Survé has been cited as a party to the proceedings, even though no relief is claimed against him. The PIC’s application smacks of malice and is designed to embarrass the Sekunjalo Group, and Dr Survé,” Hove said.

SIM is a subsidiary within the Sekunjalo Group. Its subsidiary, Independent Media, is fully operational and not a party to the liquidation application. “How do you apply to liquidate a company that is still presenting before a commission of inquiry, before the inquiry is even complete? It makes no sense,” Duarte said. 

The PIC commission was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2018 to probe allegations of impropriety regarding the PIC.

The PIC is implicated in allegations of flawed financial management and governance issues when it comes to its investments in Steinhoff International, Eskom, S&S Refinery LDA in Mozambique, a company linked to former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s son and VBS Mutual Bank. Ramaphosa has extended the deadline of the submission of the final report of the commission to December 15, at the request of the inquiry’s commissioner, Justice Lex Mpati.

Political Bureau