- July 5, 2018
- Posted by: Cheryl
- Category: General, Media & Broadcasting
Schabir’s younger brother Yunis Shaik has been appointed to the board of eTV’s JSE-listed holding company eMedia, the media group said in a Sens statement on Wednesday.
The appointment is controversial because Shaik’s interference at eTV was cited as one of the reasons for the acrimonious split between Marcel Golding, who was eTV’s CEO until 2014, and his long-standing business partner, Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) CEO, John Copelyn.
Amabhungane reported in 2014 that e-mails between Shaik and eTV’s former chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young “made explicit” he tried “to get better coverage for government as part of a lobbying campaign on behalf of HCI”.
According to Amabhungane, Shaik attempted to secure the government’s support for eTV’s set-top box (STB) programme by promising favourable coverage.
“I got a call from [Economic Development Minister Ebrahim] Patel today. He says that President [Jacob] Zuma this day opened a new dam. The building of dams is a big issue and has big impact [sic] on our country for supply of water, etc. He wants for us to cover it tonight. They have sent us the feed and want for us to use it. As this a big story [sic], it might be a good lead story of the day. Please raise with news desk,” Shaik e-mailed Keene-Young on March 24 2014.
After Keene-Young refused to give Zuma’s dam-opening the positive coverage demanded, Shaik sent another e-mail saying: “The fact that Ebrahim comes knocking on my door arises from the undertaking you and Marcel had given him with regard to coverage of the infrastructure programme. To remind you, you had undertaken to give due coverage to infrastructure programmes that is [sic] being unveiled by the government in the evening news. In the words of Marcel: ‘we will cover the story in the evening news bulletin’. In addition to that, eTV would do short stories and other paid-for advertising.”
According to Amabhungane, Yunis Shaik Attorneys was contracted in August 2013 to perform consultancy services, including what it euphemistically termed “advice on its business strategy in relation to government”.
Shaik is an executive director of HCI, and a member of the boards of several companies in the HCI stable, including eMedia since July 3, according to the Sens statement.
Source: Business Day – Robert Laing
RESPONSE FROM MR COPELYN – CEO OF HCI
Yesterday you published a piece under the heading “Shabir Shaik’s brother appointed to the board of eTV’s listed holding company, e Media”. This is intended as a replying letter to the editor:
Misdirected poison arrow: The case against Yunis Shaik
I appreciate we all have a sacred duty to preserve freedom of the media in South Africa. It is one of the few rights flowing from democracy that has helped us understand our failings as a country.
HCI as an investment company of SACTWU has been at the forefront of carrying that burden for the last twenty years. We have made our mistakes but without question we correct them quickly if it taints our mission to present news that is a truthful balanced critique of South Africa.
Yunis has been part of the team that has done this for a great many years. In truth he was at the barricades as part of SACTWU from the 1980s and has never shirked his responsibilities a single day.
It is true he is burdened by a multiplicity of crimes attached to the name Shaik. Probably the worst is that he stood at his brother’s side through the crescendo of that brother’s ignominious corruption conviction.
Perhaps he should have stepped aside and distanced himself from that brother as he fell. All I can say is HCI has no such requirements for its officers. All we require is that they don’t commit crimes themselves.
As publicly humiliating as such issues may have been, Yunis was not the accused. Nor has there ever been the slightest innuendo that perhaps he should have been.
The Business Live article focuses on the acrimony of the fall out between me and Marcel Golding, my long standing partner of two decades. Somehow it suggests that this was in some way connected to Yunis compromising the independence of eNews.
This is a complete fabrication.
Yunis’s only role was to pass on a message that the state felt eNews was reneging on a commercial contract made with it by eMedia, to cover infrastructural developments initiated by the state. Neither he nor I were involved in making the contract nor had we ever seen its terms.
It may be that entering such a contract was the wrong thing to have done. eMedia retained a final independent editorial control over the content but it did agree to cover such matters as part of a commercial agreement with the state. We have certainly never ventured near such areas again.
Nevertheless trying to lay the blame for such a mistake, if that is what it was, at the feet of Yunis because he is a Shaik is disingenuous.
Yunis issuing a warning that the contracting party was upset at eMedia allegedly reneging on its undertakings, and pointing out this had implications for the whole HCI group, in no way makes him responsible for having made such undertakings in the first place.
Marcel had a stellar career in HCI over a long period. We parted in a terribly painful way for us both. It is awful to be dragged back into that space by this Business Live article but it is unavoidable to say at least that this poison arrow is entirely misdirected, as laudable as the objective may be.