Andrew Bonamour, the CEO of South Africa’s Times Media Group (TMG), on Monday defended his company from a vicious attack from Iqbal Surve, the leader of the consortium set to acquire South Africa’s biggest newspaper company, Independent News & Media.
Bonamour questioned the fairness of being attacked publicly by Surve, who had reacted angrily after TMG wanted him to reveal the names of the other members of the consortia.
“To stand on a public platform to slate us like that is not fair,” Bonamour said.
“Even journalists who don’t work for us have asked questions about the funding for the Independent (News & Media) sale. But he’s welcome to sit with us and see the progress we have made on transformation.”
Bonamour’s comments came after Surve tweeted on Sunday: “Avusa (TMG) is fighting Sekunjalo/Independent since they are fighting to hold on to their turf in challenging times for them.”
Surve’s tweet was a reaction to an editorial run in the Sunday Times by Business Editor Rob Rose, questioning the funders of Surve’s consortium. Sunday Times is South Africa’s biggest Sunday Newspaper.
According to Rose, Surve had failed to reveal the names of other members of the consortium, claiming they will sue him.
There is talk in South Africa that other members of the consortia are high-ranking ANC members. If this is the case then newspaper company could become the ANC’s and the government’s megaphone.
Surve is the former President Nelson Mandela’s physician and he is a member of the ANC.
The Johannesburg-based daily, The Star quoted Surve as saying: “How dare u accuse the Sekunjalo consortium of bias (we have not even taken over yet)…”
The Star is the flagship newspaper of the Independent News and Media.
Last week the South African Government’s Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF) said it had bought 25 percent of Independent News and Media for $52 million.
Khaya Buthelezi, the GEPF spokesman, said this was in keeping with the government’s mandate. The GEPF also has a 19.5 percent stake in TMG.