South Africa has some of the best legislation governing freedom of expression, but with that freedom comes great responsibility.
The article by Floyd Shivambu today in Daily Maverick is an example of how constantly repeated untruths gain a life of their own and in the end this is a disservice to our hard won freedom of expression.
It remains very easy to repurpose previously published media untruths which have been responded to in the past, where media houses have apologised and corrected the facts.
Let us now respond to the individual far-fetched statements:
Firstly, Floyd’s attempt to link Minister Nene’s removal to the Guptas a figment of his own imagination or desperation as there is no correlation whatsoever. The suggestion that the SA President works under the influence of the Guptas is demeaning to the position of the head of state and the democratic set up of our country.
Secondly, we find no basis on his suggestion that “Fikile Mbalula was told by Atul Gupta that he was going to be Minister of Sports before Zuma announced the decision” and the stories around ANCYL and Malema are merely raised to blow his own trumpet without much credentials.
Thirdly, in regards to SAA, the airline has already clarified that they have many such media houses supplying newspapers and magazines for their patrons and The New Age is no exception.
Fourthly there has been no name mentioned of the Minister, allegedly, who’s offshore account has been made – another insinuation without any basis.
Fifthly, the Guptas had no ownership in Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) and hence no role in the Kumba iron ore story. Similarly, the claim that the Guptas had any role in the appointment of Minister Zwane is baseless and we have responded numerous times on our limited role in the dairy project in Free State.
The Guptas arrived in South Africa in 1993 when they started their first business which eventually became known as Sahara. Today, the group employs over 5 000 South Africans across several sectors of our economy. They have reinvested their business earnings to set up more business in the country and haven’t taken the money out of the country as suggested by some media entities, thereby standing together with like-minded companies that oppose companies which take money out of the country. They are not politically active nor have they taken any political benefits and remain simple business people focusing on running profitable and sustainable businesses. To a great extent the day to day businesses are run by CEOs who run their units on pure business lines.
As part of the leadership of the Oakbay, we once again ask our detractors that should anyone find any evidence of wrong doing on our part, they should please report it to the authorities. We believe this is the only way to end the whispering campaign which has caused significant damage to our reputation, despite their being no evidence of wrong doing on our part.
We agree and support those advocating an urgent and fundamental transformation of our economy. We however believe that our humble contribution to this challenge will be through creating jobs and opportunities for all South Africans. This is our humble contribution to dealing with the challenges of poverty and joblessness which bedevils our society.
As one of the Chief Executives involved in running the Oakbay group of companies, we want to urge our detractors to stop using microwaved previously published falsehoods.
As a respected leader of the second biggest opposition party, we would be happy to explain to Mr Shivambu with facts to the allegations which appeared in the Daily Maverick article.
Nazeem Howa is Oakbay CEO.