We would like to begin with a public vote of thanks to our editorial teams and support staff who are working painstakingly to continue to bring news to our loyal readers and subscribers and often at risk to themselves. This is as a result of the spread of Covid-19 and the ensuing national lockdown period to contain it.
The lockdown has exacerbated the sluggish economy and has led to a number of media houses experiencing a negative impact on both their advertising and circulation revenue. The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) also released a statement, earlier this week, calling for continued support for media companies, especially during this time, to mitigate the further impact on the industry.
But the impact there is. It has affected our businesses too.
Independent Media and African News Agency’s (ANA) senior management teams have already incepted several interventions to ensure the sustainability of these businesses during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. These include stringent cost reductions across the supplier chain, procurement, logistics, printing and syndication costs.
Salary reductions will also now be implemented with the highest earners required to sacrifice the biggest percentage reduction and the lowest earners being the least affected. Circumstances will be continuously monitored and assessed with interventions modified according to the business environment and business impact. The news was conveyed to staff at both organisations on Friday, 3 April 2020.
This was not an easy decision to make or take, but both companies consider the move to be a necessary and responsible approach to safeguarding the employment of the approximate 2000 personnel at these establishments.
It is also a proactive measure, as it is expected that media businesses, like many other businesses and industries, will be impacted for at least three to six months. In making the necessary reforms now, Independent Media and ANA are preparing for the inevitability of a different working world post-Covid-19, but one that we trust will be sustainable for our companies and our staff.
Our communications with our staff have been open, honest and transparent. It has, however, become subsequently necessary for ANA and Independent to issue this joint and clarifying public statement, given the wholly inappropriate and insensitive line of questioning the companies have received from some members of the competing media overnight.
Independent Media and ANA jointly denounce the petty attempts by these publications and their journalists, to use our sustainability measures and actions to perpetuate their ongoing smear and propaganda campaign against our businesses and in particular, our executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé. ANA and Independent stand united with all media colleagues across the country and the world. We are all in the same boat and for once, we are all on the same side. #Flattenthecurve.
Our deeply considered and proactive measures to protect our people should, therefore, be welcomed, and not used to score cheap points for a repeated attack on either company or their chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé. Sekunjalo Investment Holdings has independently supported the operations of both companies and will continue its efforts to safeguard a free and transformed press in South Africa throughout this process and these challenging times. Dr Survé and the entire Sekunjalo Group, are highly appreciative of the efforts the executives at Independent and ANA have done to secure staff and the Group stands united behind us.
The continued tactics to undermine the Sekunjalo Group and its underlying entities, are divisive and most definitely not in the spirit of unity, which we are all striving for at this juncture.
The media is, therefore, respectfully requested to refrain from insidious remarks and questioning. They will simply not be entertained, and no response will be given. Genuine questions in the interest of news, we will happily answer.