TOM EATON: Is there anything left to salvage from what remains of Survé’s media empire?
The Survé Philanthropies might sound like a grunge band, but it isn’t. Rather, it (they?) is (are?) an organisation founded by Iqbal Survé to help those who have made a “social impact”. And who better to talk about social impacts than the guy who just punched a R1bn hole in the pension funds of 300,000 South African workers?
On Monday, just three days after the inaugural Survé Philanthropies’ Imagine Awards (a prize-giving organised by Survé’s daughter), news broke that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) is writing off Survé’s R1bn loan from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
To be fair, Survé wasn’t the worst of the deadbeats. According to BusinessLIVE, the state pension fund also had R4.3bn invested in Steinhoff: there have been many contenders, but Marcus Jooste remains undefeated as perhaps the greatest lone destroyer of capital in this country’s modern times. Survé, however, had done a much better job at disguising the slow collapse of his empire. Steinhoff exploded in full view, but Survé’s vandalism of the already burnt-out ruins of Independent Media happened behind a wall of smoke and hot air. When he wasn’t damning his critics as anti-transformation racists, he was beaming out from the pages of his own newspapers or commissioning his most prostrate toadies to write odes to his mastery of the wind and conquest of the sun. It was astonishing, even awe-inspiring at times. Some people take selfies when they’re feeling insecure or vain. This guy bought an entire media company to do it for him. The trouble is, he bought it with borrowed money he can’t...