An email arrived yesterday from Gupta Media reporter Sipho Jack. It came via a Gupta Media address so is authentic. The reporter requests a response to allegations about a conspiracy to discredit Iqbal Survé published this week in daily newspapers owned by his Independent Media.
Incidentally, the Guptas and Survé are at war in the courts over an apparent agreement on the original purchase of the newspaper group that went sour. Here are Jack’s questions – followed by my response. – Alec Hogg
Role of BizNews fingered in a report:
Dear Mr. Hogg,
Good day, I hope you are well. I would like to get your comment regarding a report which appeared in the Independent Media. At the heart of the report, you are labelled as a racist, under transformation and having a personal agenda not only against the Group and its owners, but to other black owned PIC beneficiaries.
REPORT: As depicted in Graph 2, the articles published during the last four years reveal an interesting pattern and questionable agenda. The Media Online published 61 articles about Dr Survé, Sekunjalo and Independent in the past four years, while the Mail & Guardian published 51 articles, Times Media Group 116 and Media24 published 107. Some, like BizNews, have both a personal and commercial agenda.
Do you have any comment on the allegation that you have a personal agenda against Independent media group?
Why do you think these allegations were made? Were you given an opportunity to respond?
REPORT: Earlier this year, Dr Survé tweeted that Alec Hogg (BizNews) was a racist, since he only criticised black businesses funded by the PIC and never white businesses that account for the bulk of PIC investment.
Are you racist? Have you criticized in your writings, on the same scale, other white owned business who are beneficiaries of PIC Investment?
REPORT: Well-placed sources also claim that Alec Hogg and BizNews have become “hired guns” for a public relations campaign, paid from London to effect regime change in South Africa.
Are you opposed to the current democratically elected government?
Are you “paid from London to effect regime change in South Africa”?
Do you think you are being targeted by the Independent Media? What do you think is the reason?
Do you think BizNews' coverage on Independent Media's take-over by Sekunjalo was fair?
Reports: This wave of propaganda by journalists of a particular generation is aligned to or led almost exclusively by individuals, institutions and publications which represented white domination of the media and broader business, and the protection of white privilege at media houses, including Independent.
Do you have any comment regarding the above?
You have written consistently about the Guptas as well, are you opposed to their businesses?
Do you think the Guptas are getting political favours in government? Please help our readers with a few examples.
Alec Hogg’s response:
Dear Mr Jack
Your email on the Independent Newspapers article refers. You will be able to draw much of what you need from my context above Terry Bell’s response which is at:
On your specific question re racism, No, I do not subscribe to that idiotic notion. Every member of humanity’s DNA is 99.9% identical. To define someone because of the colour of their skin is asinine.
Re commercial agenda: This has to be a joke. Biznews is a small self-funded startup with seven team members…..
Re personal agenda: Am too focused on growing our own business to enjoy the luxury of resentments – that’s like renting space in your head to someone who you imagine may have wronged you, while they are blissfully unaware of it all.
Re white owned PIC investments: The PIC’s loan to Surve was irregular, foolhardy or worse. The savings of State pensioners was used to fund the purchase of a media business in terminal decline at twice its market value.
The company has not been able to service the interest on the loan let alone repay the capital. That is news in the public interest which we shall report of any company, regardless of the background of its owner.
Re opportunity to respond: The first I heard of the article was when it was sent to me by Biznews readers.
Re paid from London to effect regime change: No. Biznews is funded in its entirely by myself.
Re Guptas: This family is the worst example of crony capitalism I have come across in three and a half decades of financial journalism. Its sweetheart deals with State enterprises have been well documented, from the SABC through to Eskom, where Gupta employee Mark Pamensky is a board representative.
I have absolutely no reason to doubt the statements made by would-be Ministers Mcebisi Jonas and Vytjie Mentor and like the rest of South Africa, would be delighted to discover how the family accumulated such fantastic wealth in such a short period.
Alec Hogg* For more in-depth business news, visit biznews.com or simply sign up for the daily newsletter.