What You Need To Know:
Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Investment Holdings has today announced its intention to take South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to court over loss of earnings, in what the company calls “a protracted period of targeted sabotage whereby Sekunjalo believes elements of South African state power — all since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President — have been corrupted and used to deliberately undermine and wish harm on Sekunjalo’s executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, and companies allied to the Group, with the clear and determined aim of barring them from participating in the South African economy.”
Additional parties to the lawsuit are the State Attorney, Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance and the National Treasury. South African law provides the respondents six months to settle the case or mount a defense to the R75 Billion ($4Bn) claim.
Targeted Sabotage or An Elite Falling Out?:
In a statement, Sekunjalo claimed the ‘targeted sabotage’ of the company “stems from its purchase of Independent Media in 2013.” Sekunjalo Investment Holdings controls 55 percent of the media group, while ownership of the remaining 45 percent is split (20/25) between two Chinese state-owned entities and the South African Government’s Public Investment Corporation.
Survé claims Independent Media has consistently investigated government corruption, and has thus faced push-back from the State. Sekunjalo’s case reportedly took 18 months to build, utilizing ‘hard evidence’ and information received from whistleblowers.
However, the company is not without scandal. In 2013, Survé was again at the center of a controversy, after claims of having undue influence over The Cape Times. On December sixth, the day after the passing of Nelson Mandela, the Newspaper’s editor Alide Dasnois, printed a front-page editorial covering alleged irregularities in a $98 Million USD tender awarded to Sekunjalo Holdings over the management of Marine Patrol Vessels. Dasnois was subsequently removed from her role by Survé, with the chairman claiming the dismissal was warranted as Mandela’s death should have been the front page issue.
Furthermore, In 2022, The Sekunjalo Development Foundation was found to be a large contributor of funds to the Association Against Impunity and for transitional Justice, an NGO at the center of a Qatari influence scandal in Europe.
The Institute for European Integrity claims, “Two co-founders [of the Association Against Impunity] were arrested due to corruption and bribery allegations. EU politicians were allegedly bribed on behalf of several foreign governments for the purpose of influencing policy making. The foundation is alleged to have been established to serve as a conduit for illicit funds and a tool in a system of “professionalized” corruption.”
The legitimacy of the R75 Billion case has been called into question as Sekunjalo and the state have a long, intertwined history of cooperation and conflict. Scores of allegations regarding levels corruption in both Sekunjalo’s and the South African Government’s private and cooperative business dealings.
In recent years, analysts have witnessed the High Court become an arena for elite spats, which leaves the citizens of a nation that experiences 77 reported murders a day, of which 90% go unsolved, questioning the ability of its justice system.