- The government has rejected claims made by press baron Iqbal Survé that it is pressuring banks to stop doing business with him.
- Survé, the head of one of SA’s largest media groups, attacked President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in a 10-minute video.
- The government says the claims made by Survé are “devoid of truth” and “malicious”.
The government has hit back at the executive chairperson of the Independent Media group, Iqbal Survé, accusing him of spreading “malicious allegations” against President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.
Independent Media is one of the country’s largest media groups. It includes newspapers such as the Cape Times, The Star and the Pretoria News in its stable.
On Tuesday, Survé published a YouTube video accusing Ramaphosa and Gordhan of conspiring with SA’s banking sector to shut down the accounts of the entities in the Sekunjalo Group, under which Independent Media falls.
Standard Bank is the ninth local bank to cut ties with Sekunjalo. The group has, however, managed to keep its Nedbank accounts open temporarily after winning an interim injunction.
READ | Banks are ‘shutting their doors’ to Survé’s Sekunjalo businesses: Standard Bank explains why
In the 10-minute video, Survé alleged that Ramaphosa and Gordhan had for years been leading an “orchestrated” attack on his businesses, which has been carried out by a “shadow state”.
In a statement, the government responded that Survé’s claims were “devoid of truth and seek to bring the president and the minister into disrepute”.
“The Constitution entrenches the right to freedom of expression, including media freedom, which is an integral part of our democracy. Since 1994, government has been resolute in the belief that an independent and free media are vital partners in strengthening any democracy.”
Minister in The Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said that Surve’s remarks weren’t the first time that the Independent Group had “cast aspersions on Cabinet ministers”.
“The media has been free of state control since the advent of democracy. Government enjoys a cordial relationship, with media in the country through structures, such as SANEF and the Press Club,” he said.
“The media is an important partner and stakeholder of government and we confirm our commitment to upholding media freedom in South Africa.”