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Guptas met with Nene over bid for Independent Media: report

According to the Times Select the Gupta family had summoned Nhlanhla Nene several times when he was deputy Finance Minister and chaired the PIC.

This was apparently after the Gupta family attempted to buy a stake in the Independent News and Media Group, only to be rebuffed by Iqbal Survé.

The Independent Group was bought by Sekunjalo, a consortium led by Survé in a deal that was finalised in August of 2013 according to the Mail and Guardian.

The PIC was a big partner in this, according to Politicsweb, Sekunjalo owned 75% of the company, and the PIC owned 25%.

Nene was appointed as Deputy Finance minister from November 2008, to May 2014 when he became Minister of Finance.

Sekunjalo turned down the Gupta’s bid for a stake in Independent Media in September of 2013 according to according to the Mail and Guardian.

They were still turning the Gupta’s down in 2016 according to City Press.

Fin24 reported in July 2018 that the PIC has begun withdrawing its investment in the company.

My Take

It is pretty clear that the Gupta family wanted a piece of the Independent, and they weren’t getting any joy from Survé.

It looks to me at least like they then tried to go after the PIC’s share of the company, and were rebuffed.

Simply meeting with the Gupta family on this is not enough to say there was corruption there – there would have to be some sort of concrete action taken as a result of this and I’m not seeing anything.

Funnily enough though, Independent hasn’t done great business and Survé’s reign over it hasn’t exactly done the brand much good.

Selling out to the Gupta family would probably have been a good move – but for whatever reason nothing seems to have come of those meetings.

In 2016 they quit the press ombudsman according to News24, which doesn’t exactly leave one a good impression of their news practices.

The PIC’s involvement in the deal was already considered a bit dodgy due to Survé’s close relationship with the ANC, but I’m just not seeing how these alleged meetings with the Guptas add to any questions that might have raised.

At the end of last month there were claims that Amabhungane were investigating another bit of dodginess at the PIC under Nene’s tenure, but I’m not going to get specific on this because Amabhungane came out and said that they weren’t the source of those claims.

If I don’t know who is making the claim, I’m a bit hesitant to report on it. If Amabhungane are saying they weren’t the source, and we don’t know who the source really was, one has to wonder about how true the claims are.

On a lighter note, I’m not exactly sure Nene should have been trusted with the role of chairperson, after all…

  • Picture courtesy of GCIS via Flickr.
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