Pretoria – African People’s Convention president and former Scopa Chair Themba Godi has penned an emotional letter to Sekunjalo Independent Media Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé.
“Be strong my brother, this is the battle for full control. They want to control the narrative. You and your staff are all we have. You are a beacon of hope. Be strong.”
This follows the Public Investment Corporation lodging an application to liquidate Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM), a special purpose holding company set up in 2013 to buy out Independent Media SA from its Irish owners.
SIM owns 55% of Independent Media, the publisher of titles such as The Star, Pretoria News, the Cape Times and the Weekend Argus.
Godi criticised the PIC’s “sudden effort” to harass Independent Media. “There is a commission of inquiry into the affairs of the PIC but even before the commission is complete, the PIC pulls another stunt. This is clearly because some people want to control information distribution,” Godi said.
“We the APC and many others pledge ourselves to combat the many wrongs facilitated by government and some agencies of late. In the past black newspapers were burned and black journalists were tortured and killed because a minority wanted to hide the truth and control the narrative. Strength to you and your team,” Godi wrote.
On Tuesday, SIM spokesperson Takudzwa Hove said in a statement the group had received an application from the PIC to liquidate the company. He described the application as one in a series of “co-ordinated attacks on Independent Media, and ultimately, an attack on media freedom”.
“SIM is of the firm belief this action is designed as a further attempt to embarrass and undermine the Sekunjalo Group and Dr Survé personally and is aimed at provoking a run on SIM’s major subsidiary, Independent Media, which is fully operational,” SIM said on Tuesday.
SIM has instructed its attorneys to oppose this frivolous application and seek the appropriate relief against those involved, which will include seeking a special costs order against the PIC and holding those responsible personally liable.
There has been widespread support for Survé and his companies. The ANC’s Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte has called the PIC threats against SIM “crazy”, saying the PIC needed to resolve its internal mess without involving SIM.
The South African Muslim Council said they “would not allow the PIC and certain political individuals to colonise the media industry again”.
The Insika Economic Forum will convene a citizens dialogue in Soweto on Sunday to discuss how it plans to support Survé and his staff.
President of the forum Dr Sihle Sibiya says he has applied to present evidence at the commission on how the PIC is targeting Survé.
Godi will be addressing the dialogue.
This story first appeared in the Politics Bureau