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Firing of Cape Times' editor raises eyebrows

Independent News and Media chairman Dr Iqbal Survé has dismissed Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois with immediate effect‚ raising fresh questions around the independence of the group's print titles.

Dasnois' decision to have a special wraparound cover printed for the Cape Times featuring a photograph of Mandela won international recognition - but still didn't save her.
The dramatic change at one of the country's oldest English-language newspapers happened on Sunday‚ when the company's regional manager Chris Whitfield told staff the change had been made with immediate effect.

Dr Survé offered Dasnois another position‚ which she considered unacceptable.

As an emergency measure‚ Whitfield edited Monday's edition of the newspaper‚ and it was not known who would assume the position of editor‚ either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Repeated attempts to get comment from Independent failed on Sunday. Dasnois refused to comment‚ saying she was seeking legal advice. According to Cape Times staff‚ there was a furious row between Dr Survé and Dasnois over the Friday edition.

Dr Survé objected strongly to Dasnois's decision to keep the front page with the lead story covering Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's release of three damning reports.

One of the reports‚ concerning the tender for fishing patrol vessels‚ had Madonsela calling on President Jacob Zuma to take strong action against Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

The report‚ however‚ let Sekunjalo Investment Holdings‚ the JSE-listed company of which Dr Survé is also the chairman‚ off the hook for collusive tendering practices‚ but referred that matter to the Competition Commission.

Bizarre: Great cover, international recognition... and you're out

According to Cape Times staff‚ Dr Survé believed strongly the Cape Times front page should have been devoted to the news over former president Nelson Mandela's death that occurred late on Thursday‚ 5 December.

Instead‚ Dasnois had a special wraparound cover printed for the Cape Times featuring a photograph of Mandela.

That cover has been selected by Time magazine as one of the best covers from around the world marking Mandela's death. "It is bizarre‚" said a shocked staffer. "The editor makes a decision that wins the newspaper one of great recognition internationally and then gets fired."

Other staff members said Dr Survé accused Dasnois of being too "left wing" in her views and that he wanted the Cape Times to be more business friendly.

Yet the Sekunjalo Independent Media consortium that bought Independent in August for R2bn has unions among its members‚ in particular the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union‚ a Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliate.

Some staffers believe Dr Survé's decision may have been prompted by the fact that Dasnois is a trustee of the Indie Trust of general staff that wanted to buy a 25% stake in Independent Newspapers. This was thwarted by some of the group's other editors who wanted shares to be issued to them in their personal capacities.

Dr Survé has strong political connections and was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to the Brics (Brazil‚ Russia‚ India‚ China‚ South Africa) business council.

Independent political analyst Daniel Silke said it would be strange to brand The Cape Times as too left wing. "It certainly has not promoted a left-wing agenda and at times it has been critical of the African National Congress and its ally Cosatu."


I-Net Bridge
For more than two decades, I-Net Bridge has been one of South Africa’s preferred electronic providers of innovative solutions, data of the highest calibre, reliable platforms and excellent supporting systems. Our products include workstations, web applications and data feeds packaged with in-depth news and powerful analytical tools empowering clients to make meaningful decisions.

We pride ourselves on our wide variety of in-house skills, encompassing multiple platforms and applications. These skills enable us to not only function as a first class facility, but also design, implement and support all our client needs at a level that confirms I-Net Bridge a leader in its field.
Go to: http://www.inet.co.za
AKA Doom
Forty years in media, investigative journalism, other investigations & "profiling" train one to look beyond the obvious. To the trained eye and mind a great many things are revealed from actions, statements (or lack thereof), behaviours, attitudes and the like. Think of it as a crime scene analyst studying an incident scene. Or along the lines of polygraph (lie detector). Nothing reveals everything, but cumulatively a lot of seemingly disconnected things reveal more of the truth than people suspect.

And, as is the case with 90% of people, companies reveal more of themselves than they would like us to believe. Whether in the court of journalistic accuracy or in a court of law, evidentiary demands are stringent.

Not so in the court of public opinion. There the weight of credibility works differently. That's where both Sekunjalo and Surve fail the credibility test woefully.
Posted on 10 Dec 2013 18:44
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