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BLOOD ON THE FLOOR AT e.tv

02 Nov General

Johannesburg – The fight and skirmishes at the Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) and e.tv have been so brutal that so much blood was spilled on the floor this week and showed how former comrades’ falling out could end a partnership dating decades due to differences on the direction of the business.

The official departure of Marcel Golding this week, during the company’s annual general meeting in Cape Town, marked the end of an era for former trade union leaders and activists.

Golding was Cyril Ramaphosa’s number two at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the turbulent days of the 1980s while Yunis Shaik was leading the clothing sector in the trade union movement during the same period.

This week Johnny Copelyn, a former ally of Golding, took control of the business following the bruising battle.

With the dust settling at HCI Shaik has refused to be drawn on the fight and the ultimate capitulation of Golding saying he preferred to stay out of everything.

“I have nothing to say. All that has been said has been said,” Shaik told The Sunday Independent on Friday.

As for Golding, he took a similar line saying his answers were laid bare in his court papers.

“I have said what I have said in the court papers,” Golding said.

In the court papers he accuses his former comrades of exerting pressure on him and e.tv to broadcast stories favourable to President Jacob Zuma’s programmes.

This was in the lead-up to the tough May 7 elections.

But the union at the centre of the battle, the South African Clothing and Allied Workers Union (Sactwu), has also denied trying to influence the direction of news on e.tv.

Sactwu has 32 percent ownership of the TV channel and HCI.

It is the majority shareholder in the company.

Sactwu is one of the unions that have decided to create investment arms and run different companies.

Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel also told said on Friday that they had nothing to do with the political direction of e.tv.

He said they never interfered in the news broadcast issues.

“We never do. We leave it to the management of those companies. We have never interfered politically in e.tv. We don’t even have seats on the board and have never asked for it, even though we are the largest shareholder.

“All we have done is to ask for our normal trade union events to be covered. We do that with all media houses,” Kriel said.

He did not think it should be their business to direct news on the station despite being the majority shareholder.

Copelyn did not respond to questions sent to him via text messages.

The history of the trade union movements getting into business began at the dawn of democracy with Cosatu and its affiliates seeing opportunities in the business sector.

The fight at HCI and e.tv started in the boardroom and ended up in court with Golding losing the court battle.

Golding argued in his court papers he did not believe that political interference in editorial policy was the right thing to do.

The fight at e-tv over the control of editorial policy is a new terrain for the free-to-air channel, but a familiar territory in South African politics. The SABC has been mired in one controversy over the other dating back to the days of the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.

Accusations flew that some of the journalists at the public broadcaster favoured one faction over the other in the ruling party.

The factionalisation of the SABC was even said to be the source of some of its newsmen and women leaving the channel.

To this day opposition parties in Parliament complain that the station is giving more coverage to the ruling party than them.

The HIC and e.tv debacle has demonstrated that no one can claim to be insulated from any activities in the country.

However, the Sactwu-aligned leaders at the station remain convinced nothing wrong has been done and the station remains free of political interference in its editorial policy.

Source: Sunday Independent – Siyabonga Mkhwanazi