Race Merchants and the Race Card

Race merchants are people who shape their career by pretending that racism is South Africa’s greatest crisis and then attempt to present themselves as the heroes in the battle against...

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Newspaper and Coffee Independent Race

Race merchants are people who shape their career by pretending that racism is South Africa’s greatest crisis and then attempt to present themselves as the heroes in the battle against (especially white) racism.

The careers of race merchants depend on you and me believing that South Africa is overflowing with racism and that they have the solutions.

Ernst Roets Politicsweb 11/7/2016

“We are being discriminated against and targeted by the PIC. We are the victims of a targeted and discriminatory racist campaign.”

Iqbal Survé Daily Maverick 12/5/2021

Warrant officers Sedisa Tikoe, and Chris Mphana who were based at the Klerksdorp police station were dismissed by the SAPS on 11 May having previously been found guilty of crimen injuria, perjury and defeating the ends of justice for falsely accusing a police colleague, Lt Col Annemarie Oosthuizen, of racism.

The next day, in a live-streamed broadcast, Iqbal Survé accused the Public Investment Corporation of having persecuted him with racist intent.

This happened at a virtual meeting of parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance.

The accusation is rendered moot when you look at the photographs of the PIC’s 12-member board of directors which is portrayed on its website.

If any of them has faced a charge of racism prior to the current accusation by Survé, I am not aware of it.

It was at this meeting that the CEO of the PIC, Abel Sithole, revealed that Survé had defaulted on loan repayment for the monies advanced in 2013 for the purchase of the biggest group of English newspapers in the country and was now indebted for more than a billion rand. With the AYO shares irregularly purchased by former PIC CEO, Dan Matjila, with civil servant pension money for R43 each now selling for less than R6 on the JSE – which fined AYO R6.5 million for accounting errors – it has become clear that they will never see any benefit from the more than R5 billion in total that Matjila organised for Survé.

This has been acknowledged in two bitter media statements by the Association for Monitoring and Advocacy of Government Pensions (AMAGP) – see here and here – which represents some fifty thousand civil service pensioners.

Slush fund

AMAGP points to the Mpati Commission ruling that all transactions between Iqbal Survé and Daniel Matjila were suspect and needed to be investigated and that the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA is investigating Survé for potential share price manipulation – a contravention of the Financial Management Act which potentially carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of R50m or both.  They also refer to the evidence before the Zondo Commission  about Arthur Fraser diverting R20 million from a security police slush fund to the Surve-linked  African News Agency (ANA) in order to undermine the CR17 faction of the ANC.

In an interview with Mandy de Waal for Daily Maverick in February 2013, Survé said:

 “If you know anything about me you know that I operate with incredible integrity.”

As a self-proclaimed person of integrity is it not incumbent upon him to provide evidence that the PIC board of directors is racist in its entirety or to provide proof about which individual member has a track record of racism.

Survé has a disturbing history of making such claims without substantiating them with tangible proof and, unlike Warrant officers Sedisa Tikoe, and Chris Mphana, he never suffers the slightest sanction:

  • On 15 May 2014 Iqbal Survé verbally abused Alide Dasnois at a disciplinary hearing, accused her of being a racist without providing any proof and promised to ‘use his billions’ to destroy her reputation and future employment prospects. Dasnois gave him the opportunity to substantiate these claims under oath and to face cross-examination in this context when she took him to the Labour Court citing unfair dismissal. Survé, his bluff called, waved the white flag, sounded the retreat and settled in May 2016. Although a subsequent statement absolved Dasnois of the racist charge, she continues to be attacked in his newspapers. Ironically, she then joined GroundUP and Sekunjalo newspapers routinely use its outstanding journalism in the absence of self-generated ethical news coverage of their own.
  • On 20 June 2014 Iqbal Survé attended a SANEF-hosted dinner held to announce the winner of the Nat Nakasa award for courageous journalism. He was seated at the main table with the keynote speaker, then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Sim Tshabalala, CEO of Standard Bank.

The judges who chose the winner were then Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe, Dr Simphiwe Sesanti, a journalism lecturer at Stellenbosch University and Peter Sullivan, a former editor of the Star.

When it was announced that Alide Dasnois was the winner, Survé, reportedly apoplectic with rage, stormed out shouting that this was ‘racist’ and ‘bullshit’. Dasnois and Whitfield report in their book, Paper Tiger that, as Survé was leaving, he was accosted by Ronnie Mamoepa, Ramaphosa’s spokesman who berated Survé for his disrespectful behavior (page 130).

Survé has produced no evidence to prove that Joe Thloloe, Simphiwe Sesanti and Peter Sullivan are racists.

  • In November 2015 after James Myburgh had revealed in Politicsweb that Survé was making no effort to pay off the R850 million PIC loan used to buy the Independent Media newspapers, Survé, without explaining his conduct, accused Myburgh of being a racist with a ‘right wing agenda’. He provided no proof to buttress his contention that Myburgh was a racist. Myburgh was vindicated when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, informed parliament that Iqbal Survé had reneged on repaying the monies owed on the PIC loan. Myburgh was further vindicated on 12 May this year when Abel Sithole, PIC CEO, informed parliament that Survé’s original debt of R850 million had, by default and with accumulated interest, ballooned to R1.1 billion. Sithole told the meeting that good-faith negotiations by the PIC had not been reciprocated and that it was being forced to seek redress through the courts. It was at this meeting that the Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo challenged Survé to prove his accusation of a racist conspiracy against him, something that had previously been dismissed by other MPs – see here and here and here.
  • On 13 September 2017 Survé accused the University of Cape Town of being racist and assured the Fees Must Fall members of his newspaper’s support. Suitably encouraged, they attempted to burn down the campus and their persecution of revered cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi played a major role in his suicide according to his family and the subsequent report by the university.
  • In April 2019, he accused the PIC of having a racist investment strategy;
  • In October 2019 he accused Tiso Blackstar of racism and cited the Holocaust in a reference to one of the country’s most respected journalists, Carol Paton.

As John Kane-Berman of the Institute of Race Relations points out:

Over the past 20 years the IRR has commissioned seven opinion surveys on race relations. All seven reveal that the proportion of black Africans (blacks) who think race relations have improved outnumbers the proportion who think the opposite.

During this polling, the majority of Black African respondents – almost 80% -indicated that they did not experience racism in their daily lives.

So how justified are Iqbal Survé’s constant accusations of racism against individuals and institutions?

Ethnic antagonism

Are he and his newspapers not guilty of the very ethnic antagonism he and some of his news staff constantly accuse others of harbouring?

This was particularly evident on day 23 (2 April 2019) at the Mpati Commission where he accused rival media companies of being corrupt barbarians:

In 2012 I considered it necessary for a different narrative to reflect balance of South Africa as a country and as a developing nation and I want to say at this point African and South Africans are presented by predominantly the white media that have not changed until then. It is owned by the same people who owned it during apartheid. As barbarians, as corrupt, they do not give account to intellectuals and others, in any event.

(Page 39 of the transcript of his oral testimony)

He further stressed his antipathy towards white companies during his under-oath Mpati Commission testimony – see here and here and here.

The late Karima Brown, one of the first people he hired after the Sekunjalo takeover in 2013, was even more open in this regard. Here is what she posted on the internet following an epic social media meltdown by Eusebius McKaiser:

“Long gone are the days where we explain ourselves to White politicians. Especially ones (sic) that tries to undermine and underplay the disastrous impact of racism, whiteness and its attendant entitlement. You stand on the shoulders of giants and you inspire so many young and old to live authentically and with purpose. Helen Zille is a bully who has an overdeveloped Madam complex. She has yet to answer to the substantive issues raised by the widest range of people on her crude attempt to use political power to determine the reading choices of the Western Cape government. As you said elsewhere. Whiteness and its hegemony stops right here and right now. We ain’t taking this shit no more!!”

The subliminal message to her subordinates was that such language and such sentiments were not only acceptable at Sekunjalo Independent Media but that they were de facto policy. If white people were to articulate such generalised,  bitter and ethnically-divisive accusations against black people in a newspaper, they would be justifiably condemned. Karima Brown experienced no consequences however because this is clearly acceptable behaviour at Sekunjalo Independent Media.

It became routine, when Aneez Salie was editor, for Helen Zille to be denigrated as a ‘White Madam’ on social media and in headlines but one never saw any references to a ‘Black Madam’ in the Cape Times.

Such ethnically divisive news reporting became routine at the Cape Times when Aneez Salie was editor – see here and here and this, in turn, led to the alienation of its subscribers and its advertisers see here and here.

Nowhere was Sekunjalo’s anti-white animus, the unjustified accusations of innate racism, more manifest than in Aneez Salie’s Cape Times editorial on 3 September 2018:

‘No longer do we serve primarily the descendants of the English colonists.

‘We are humbled and deeply grateful that you the readers warmed to this approach with loyal support, rejecting calls for a boycott by those colonial, unrepentant racists who once prostituted the Cape Times for their narrow political ends.’

As the recent circulation figures provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulation indicate, that ‘loyal support’ has turned out to be a boycott which, in my experience, is without precedent in South African newspaper history.

This boycott has now resulted in the Cape Times selling less than ten thousand copies a day in a city which is home to three and half million people. Before Salie became editor, the daily circulation figure was 31,500 according to a letter one of his predecessors, Alide Dasnois, wrote to Iqbal Survé on 30 October 2013 – (Page 71 – Paper Tiger).

An even more staggering example of Salie’s open contempt for white subscribers to the Cape Times was cited by Gray Maguire on his Facebook page on 18 February 2016. At the time there was a shortage of student accommodation at the University of Cape Town.  As the authors of Paper Tiger point out, Survé, his family and his business associates feature at least once a week in his newspapers – something which has never happened at any other newspaper company. Salie accordingly seized the opportunity to, once again, manifest his servile sycophancy which was constantly on display according this article by the former political editor at the newspaper, Dougie Oakes.

He accordingly featured his employer on the front page appealing to Capetonians to provide accommodation in their homes to needy students. As Survé is a self-professed billionaire and philanthropist, Gray Maguire posted an obvious question on his Facebook page – had Survé led by example and opened his own home to such students because there was no suggestion of this in the front-page article?

Salie’s response?

#piss off

Such treatment of a client by a newspaper executive is unprecedented in my 53-year career as a reporter

He was duly promoted and given overall control of all the Sekunjalo newspapers showing that couth and class are not values held in high regard at Sekunjalo Independent Media.

Warrant officers Sedisa Tikoe, and Chris Mphana lost their jobs at the Klerksdorp police station for making false accusations of racism yet Survé and his employees have done this for years – the most recent example being his denigration of the PIC’s board of directors as racists at the 12 May meeting of parliament’s oversight committee on finance.

Would this behavior define him as one of the ‘Race Merchants’ mentioned in the Ernst Roets article on Politicsweb?

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