The SABC is right to implement a ban on showing visuals of violent public protests, says Oakbay Investments chief executive officer Nazeem Howa.
In an interview with News24 about his company’s controversial coal contract with state-owned power supplier Eskom, Howa briefly expressed his views on censorship.
SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has come under fire for banning the broadcaster from showing visuals of the burning of public buildings. Motsoeneng has also been criticised for pushing a “sunshine” or good news editorial policy at the SABC.
Gupta-linked Oakbay Investments owns local television news channel ANN7 and The New Age newspaper.
When asked Howa for his views on this recently implemented SABC policy, he said he supports it and that he doesn’t view it as censorship.
“I’m in a wonderful position of being on the commercial side of the business so what I say doesn’t really matter,” Howa said.
“I would support the SABC position but at the end of the day it would be up to the editor, who is in charge of our TV station and the editor in charge of our newspaper to make that decision,” Howa said.
Howa further said that he believes media organisations risk inciting violence.
“But personally, I believe we do encourage violence — that is a belief that I do have,” Howa added.
Oakbay has been under the spotlight in South Africa over its links with controversial family the Guptas.
The Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, quit their full-time positions at Oakbay in April this year amid allegations of state capture.
Earlier this year, deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed that the Gupta family offered him the job of finance minister last year before Zuma’s controversial sacking of Nhlanhla Nene.
The Guptas, though, are still dominant shareholders in Oakbay Investments.
Meanwhile, local media reports also emerged this year about the Gupta family leaving South Africa in a rush to Dubai and India.
And over the weekend, City Press reported that Eskom “quietly” awarded a contract worth more than R564m to Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a coal mining company owned by the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma.
The deal reportedly would take Tegeta’s R2,2bn Optimum Coal Mine out of business rescue by August this year, reported the paper. In April, the mine was projected to lose R100m/month.
The Sunday Times reported that the South African Reserve Bank is probing allegations that the Guptas may have been illegally channelling money out of the country.
Howa, who spoke about his former background as a journalist, hit out at South Africa’s media industry in light of its focus on Oakbay and the Gupta family.
“I’ve lost faith in my old profession to be really frank with you; I’ve lost faith in them in terms of just the quality of work they do right now,” Howa said.
“I used to work at the Sunday Times — I was an assistant editor there … I don’t know why I mentioned that — I’m embarrassed by that affiliation by what they’re doing today,” he said.
“How many normal South Africans will believe a nameless source because it appeared in the Sunday Times, and that is the damage that is being done to our business. It’s really serious damage that I think has been done in a really careless manner,” Howa added.
Howa said, too, that Oakbay’s media companies receive less government advertising when compared to the likes of Naspers-owned Media24.
Dispute with Iqbal Survé
Howa also commented on Oakbay’s dispute with Iqbal Survé, the executive chairman of Independent Media.
Oakbay has claimed a 50% share of Survé’s Sekunjalo Independent Media’s investment in Independent Media.
Oakbay said it was promised this share in 2012 but never received it. The dispute is set to be heard in the high court in Pretoria.
“Our view is that if justice prevails we will win. Our agreement is watertight. Our agreement is very, very clear. I’m covered by huge confidentialities on this one, but our view is that if justice prevails, we will win that matter,” said Howa.