Ed Herbst: If Cyril Ramaphosa’s a blesser, what about Kenny Kunene – and the rest?

CAPE TOWN — Self, others and context. It’s a daily mantra that many people use to guide their behaviours and keep their moral compass facing true north. Taking all three into account really does make a difference – unlike with the characters outlined in Ed Herbst’s broad brush strokes here, their stories complemented by detailed facts in chapter and verse. A keen observer of fake news and media hypocrisy, Herbst compares the Independent Newspapers’ much-touted expose of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa as a ‘blesser” with the behaviour of some of its senior staffers and, in one case a convicted criminal mate. It’s all within the wider context of Dr Iqbal Surve’s acquisition of Independent Newspapers via a massive Public Investment Corporation soft loan, whose doubtful repayment Herbst speculates on. He depicts it as part of a Zuptoid-supporting campaign to ingratiate Independent Newspapers with the then-most powerful person in the land, Jacob Zuma, at any cost. Society and its interests were nowhere near the top of mind, although the failed ideology espoused was meant to convince us otherwise. Now that the context is suddenly changing, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly these corporate media chameleons change colour. – Chris Bateman

By Ed Herbst*

Life is too short to be taking girls out for dates and to restaurants,” he said. “Mina I say it there and there, sometimes I don’t even propose. Women are easy.”

Kenny [Kunene], however, topped that display in an interview with Phat Joe on Metro FM on Saturday, in which he confessed that he had committed statutory rape when he was employed as a teacher.

When asked whether his financial status made it easier for him to attract women, Kenny replied: “When I was a student, I had multiple girlfriends; and when I was a teacher I also had multiple girlfriends, so it is not of my current financial situation.”

Co-host Pearl Thusi then asked if Kenny had slept with his students as a teacher and he replied that he had. When Thusi then said “That’s statutory rape”, Kenny seemed to have no misgivings about agreeing with her. – Kenny’s underaged girls, Twitter threats IOL  15/4/2013

This is why the demise of ANN7 is more worrying for the Gupta network of corruption than for journalists or the viewing public. Surely in the post-truth age we have to act against those who knowingly purvey falsity? – Anton Harber Media Online 2/2/2018

With the departure of President Jacob Zuma imminent, it would be appropriate, from a media ethics standpoint, to analyse a nefarious attempt to retain him and his patronage network in power and to derail the CR17 campaign. The objective of this media campaign was to get Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma elected as his successor.

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

To enable this media campaign to happen, the Sunday Independent editor, Wally Mbhele, was fired for publishing in this Iqbal Survé-owned newspaper an article analysing how the Zupta faction had gerrymandered ANC internal processes to get  Gupta-benefactor, Brian Molefe elected to parliament.

In his stead, Survé, appointed a Jacob Zuma imbongi of note, Steve Motale. Motale had previously written a cringe-inducing mea culpa apology to Jacob Zuma while he was editor of The Citizen which is owned by a rival newspaper company.

What is startling but not surprising is that this former Citizen article now features on the IOL website which is owned by Survé.

Does looking after the interests of Jacob Zuma administration in particular and the ANC in general not run like a faecal thread through the narrative of the Sekunjalo takeover of the Independent News Media company in 2013? I believe I answered this question in my article The rise of Fake News under the ANC government published on this website in January. What is a matter of record is that Survé employed as senior news executives, Karima Brown and Vukani Mde after they published an article defending Jacob Zuma  and that, thereafter, they wore ANC regalia to attend a rally addressed by him and wrote a letter threatening white staff – the sort of threat which became the hallmark of the Zuma  administration. A purge of senior white staff followed with, Chelsea Amore Lotz, a Jacob Zuma acolyte and subsequent Gupta employee tottering around on skyscraper red stiletto heels during a protest outside Newspaper House carrying a placard calling for the dismissal of ‘racist reporters’. This was a reference to Tony Weaver who was justifiably praised by Trevor Manuel for his outstanding journalism during the Struggle before he, like so many other outstanding news personnel, left or were forced to leave the employ of Iqbal Survé.

What is also relevant is that, as court papers filed in mid-2016 reveal, Survé – a confidante of Brett Kebble – was initially more than happy to go into partnership with the Guptas in the purchase of the biggest group of English newspapers in the country.

When Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced her candidacy for the presidential post and started criss-crossing the country preaching the discredited  and ANC-denounced Gupta/Bell Pottinger hymn of ethnic hate –  the  ‘White Monopoly Capital’ mantra – Survé immediately threw the full weight of his newspapers behind her campaign, just as he had done with the immensely destructive Fallist campaign which was also fuelled by ethnic hatred, did incalculable reputational damage to our country and disrupted the studies of tens of thousands of university students.

Iqbal Survé, head of Independent Media Group.

A month ago, political analyst Molifi Tshabalala claimed in a Sunday Times op-ed article that  the newly-appointed Sunday Independent editor, Steve Motale, was a co-owner with ‘Sushi King’ Kenny Kunene, of a Gupta-supporting online news portal, the Weekly Exposé.

The Weekly Exposé  was set up in support of the Guptas by Kenny Kunene in November 2016 and has been described by a judge as ‘a tabloid at best’.

This disturbing co-ownership claim has not been refuted and Iqbal Survé must have been aware of this when he dismissed Wally Mbhele and hired Motale.

On 3 November last year the Kunene/Motale, pro Zuma /pro Gupta collaboration came to fruition with a salaciously sensational front page lead in the Sunday Independent.

Motale’s article, which was clearly part of a smear campaign, alleged that Cyril Ramaphosa was a relentless womaniser preying on a bevy of student nubiles to slake his sexual lusts in return for having their tertiary education funded by him.

These sensational ‘blesser’ claims about Ramaphosa by the Kunene/Motale team were essentially stillborn because no substantiating evidence was produced and one of the women implicated in the salacious Fake News ‘scandal’ – a theological student nogal, was able to prove that she had never even met Ramaphosa. Furthermore, the Sunday Independent/Weekly Exposé smear campaign quickly suffered an apparently fatal court setback because there have been no follow-up articles.

Journalistic sleaze

Did nobody spot the irony – that the driving force behind this journalistic sleaze was that louche Lothario, Kenny Kunene who, if his constantly-promoted social media exploits are to be believed, has allegedly bedded more hot babes – no matter that some were in their teens – than most men have had hot breakfasts?

As deployed cadres in a  patriarchal criminal enterprise, high-profile ANC members have preyed on vulnerable woman for decades but, provided this happens within the bounds of the law, that is their own business.

But here’s the kicker…

Provided it happens within the bounds of the law

And statutory rape – which Kunene happily acknowledges in one of the anchor quotes to this article – emphatically falls outside those legal confines.

Kenny “Sushi King” Kunene (far right).

Men preying on women who, in terms of power relationships are subordinate to them and thus vulnerable, lie at the heart of the #MeToo movement and at the heart of this man’s anger. Given the way in which vulnerable schoolgirls are preyed upon in our Sadtu-controlled education system, Kunene’s insouciant remarks on a national radio station about student seductions certainly evoked anger in me, even though Steve Motale seems utterly unconcerned.

What monetary values define a blesser?

Well how do the figures of R120 million and R60 million grab you?

Both those figures are in the public domain and, in terms of the blesser debate,  relate to the Kenny Kunene/Steve Motale sodden squib about Ramaphosa’s alleged blesser tendencies.

The R120 million refers to the IDC loan of this amount to Alliance Mining in 2010 shortly before the company closed its doors and the money disappeared into thin air.

As I pointed out in my article ‘Matilda Gaboo, the SIU, Matthews Phosa and Number One on the Media Online website, Matthews Phosa was the chairman of Alliance Mining and he had made Matilda Gaboo – who left the SABC under a cloud – a major shareholder in this company which conveniently folded after receiving the PIC- donated R120 million and the money vanished, never to be seen again. Gaboo had told colleagues at the SABC, before her ignominious departure, that she was a very, very, very close friend of Phosa.

Subsequently, as I pointed out on this website, another due diligence IDC loan, this time of only R60 million, has gone sour after it was lent to the mistress of the somewhat controversial MP, Ben Martins and, in a manner of speaking, she blew it within a year.

Flag of the African National Congress (ANC)

The ANC has taken no action against Gaboo despite an SIU investigation which cost R20 million and which recommended her criminal prosecution, because that is not how the ANC operates and it would be seen as a grave contravention of the founding principles of the glorious National Democratic Revolution’s Tsunami of Sleaze. Rest assured therefore that no action will be taken against Lorraine Masipa just as no action was taken when R2 billion was snouted at the Land bank and R2 billion was snouted during the utterly corrupt 2004 – 2006 interregnum when the ANC controlled the Cape Town municipality and the province.

Both Matilda Gaboo and Lorraine Masipa seem to have been somewhat blessed by their close proximity to senior ANC MPs and yet neither featured in the Sunday Independent ‘Cyril the player’ front page lead on 3 September last year by the Sushi King and Steve Motale.

And have Dudu Myeni and Ellen Tshabalala not been blessed by being appointed to lucrative positions in SOEs like the SABC and SAA as a result of their closeness to the Big Kahuna/ the Main Induna – a question I asked in a previous article on this website?

Knowingly purvey falsity

In one of the anchor quotes to this article, Anton Harber asks:

Surely in the post-truth age we have to act against those who knowingly purvey falsity?

In this regard I am reminded of a sentence in the recently-published report of the SA Press Council of South Africa by its executive director Joe Thloloe:

Forty-eight of the complaints received by the public advocate were against publications in the Independent Media company, which has hived off from the Press Council of SA (PCSA) and established its own in-house system.

Would examples of what Harber calls ‘knowingly purveyed falsity’ not include the ‘Cyril the player’ front page lead in the Sunday Independent by Steve Motale?

Or this article and this article and this article and this article and this article and this article and this article and this article .

To sum up: The Sunday Independent, in pursuance of the political goals of its owner, has aligned itself with and utilised the services of a former convict who openly and unashamedly acknowledges that has, in the past, made himself guilty of statutory rape.

The information in this regard has been in the public domain for almost five years, so how could Iqbal Survé not have been aware of this? I ask the question because, shortly after the Sekunjalo takeover, all the Indy newspapers carried eleven imbongi puff pieces lauding the new owner as an iconic business leader, effortlessly bestriding the world of international finance as he breakfasted with Prince Charles, lunched with the Clintons and had the Davos audience spellbound with his entrepreneurial wisdom.

I am not questioning his stellar qualities in that regard. All I’m saying is that doing due diligence investigations must therefore be second nature to him, so how could he not have been aware about the partnership between his newly-appointed editor of the Sunday Independent and Kunene’s self-acknowledged sexual proclivities given that this information was revealed on a national radio station and has been on the internet – on Survé’s own IOL website – and available through a Google search for almost five years?

I believe this to be the antithesis of ethical news gathering and dissemination, but another vexed question remains.

PIC Chief Executive Officer Dan Matjila

Civil servant pensioners took a R12 billion hit in the Steinhoff scandal and with the 2013 R1.2 billion loan by the PIC to enable the ANC to gain control of the biggest group of English newspapers in the country coming up for repayment, they will want to know what Iqbal Survé plans in this regard.

They will be hoping that the loan plus interest will be repaid and that their profit on the deal will be even better for them than the 5000% return which Chancellor House got thanks to the sage intervention of Comrade Valli (Squeaky Clean) Moosa in the Hitachi/Medupi insider trading scam.

In terms of the human rights provisions of the Constitution, South African citizens are entitled to information which affects their lives and, in withholding the information about the Sekunjalo loan repayment, the CEO of the PIC, Dr Daniel Matjila, is, in my opinion, contravening those provisions. Given his recent dodgy R5 billion loan to Eskom, it becomes even more imperative for Matjila to come clean with the nation about when his incredibly soft loan to Sekunjalo will be repaid – if at all – and with what return.

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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