Deputy finance minister asks Iqbal Survé to prove claims of grand conspiracy

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Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo.
Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo.
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  • Businessman Iqbal Survé and Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo both gave evidence before Parliament's finance oversight committee on Wednesday. 
  • Survé, the executive chair of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, alleged that companies in the Sekunjalo stable were being targeted by a "hidden hand".  
  • Masondo said Survé must provide facts to back up his claims of a massive conspiracy. 

Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo has asked businessman Iqbal Survé to back up his allegations of a grand conspiracy against his companies.

"I think it would be important for Doctor Survé to present facts, and we deal with facts," said Masondo. "I am just worried about making allegations and statements without saying 'here are the facts.'"

Survé and Masondo were on Wednesday testifying before Parliament's finance oversight committee, together with Matome Maponya Investments (MMI) and representatives of state-run asset manager the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The meeting's focus was on the report of the Mpati commission of inquiry into the PIC and moves by the state asset manager to recover funds it invested in companies in the Sekunjalo and MMI stables.

Survé, sitting with colleagues in front of a large painting of former president Nelson Mandela, alleged that companies in the Sekunjalo stable were being targeted by the PIC and other forces, directed by "hidden hands".

"This is nothing but McCarthyism," he said.

The PIC is seeking to recover funds from three companies in the Sekunjalo stable: AYO Technology Solutions, Independent Media, and Sekunjalo Independent Media.

Independent Media is the publisher of titles such The Star, Cape Times, and Weekend Argus.

Survé said the PIC's alleged "targeting" of these companies amounted to an "attack on media freedom".

He accused the asset manager of being anti-transformation and not investing in black companies. 

If his company could be "targeted" in such a manner, then he didn't "see a future for black people in this country," he added.

Bring facts 

Masondo replied to say that Survé should provide facts to back up his allegations due to their seriousness.  

"I was interested in learning more about this. Who are 'they' and how is this being done, because I prefer to deal with facts," he said. "In the absence of facts, we are just going to get into conjecture and theories, which would be unfortunate".

"I think it would be important for Doctor Survé to say 'here are the facts, here is how I, or black companies, are being targeted.'"

The deputy minister added that Treasury could not become involved in disputes between the PIC and its investee companies.

He said if companies the PIC had invested in were unhappy, they were free to approach the courts. 

In response, Survé said that the Sekunjalo group would be approaching the courts to review the Mpati Commission of Inquiry's findings.

Wednesday's testimony follows on from a meeting held in mid-March, where AYO Technology's chairperson, Dr Wallace Mgoqi, said that National Treasury, JSE, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the Mpati commission of inquiry, the DA, journalists, "private corporate entities", the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and "banking institutions" were all seeking to undermine the IT group.

The next month, amaBhungane reported that Absa had sent letters to every client directly or indirectly controlled by Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, giving 60 days' notice of termination of services. 

Last month Fin24 reported that FNB had joined Absa in closing the accounts of AYO. 

On Wednesday, Survé said that "white business" was using the "levers of financial instruments" to cut companies off. 

Abel Sithole, the CEO of the PIC, repeatedly denied that the company was targeting entities in the Sekunjalo or MMI stables or was anti-transformation.

"We do not target black companies at all. We only deal with companies that are not meeting the terms and conditions we have entered into. And that is all we do".

"If companies perform, we are more than happy to retain them," he said.

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