Former Cape Times editor Alida Dasnois walked away with the Nat Nakasa award for courageous journalism at the weekend. But her ex-boss, Iqbal Survé, was in no celebratory mood. TheMediaOnline reports.
The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) released a media statement at the weekend about its annual general meeting, with a brief mention of its Nat Nakasa journalism awards event. On the latter, it simply carried two sentences, without any hint of the drama reported to have unfolded behind the scenes. “The prestigious annual Nat Nakasa Journalism Award for Courageous Journalism was given to former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois following a unanimous decision of the three independent judges. The award is the initiative of Print and Digital Media SA, the Nieman Society of Southern Africa, and Sanef.”
What the statement did not say was that Dasnois is the “former” editor because she was fired by Dr Iqbal Survé, the new owner of Independent News & Media SA – who also attended the awards event.
A quick glance at social networking site Twitter paints a far more interesting picture of what happened when Dasnois was announced the winner. If tweets by several guests, including Mail & Guardian editor-in-chief, Chris Roper, are anything to go by, Survé was not happy at all.
“Wow, Nat Nakasa award, in front of Iqbal Survé, goes to Alide Dasnois. For not bowing to owner pressure,” Roper tweeted on Friday evening.
This was followed by another tweet from Roper, whose editor Angela Quintal sat next to Survé: “Alide Dasnois – this award shows that we will not be bullied. Survé shouts – this is bullshit and racist, and storms out.”
And: “Only 3 judges choose the Nat Nakasa award. Iqbal Survé is going to claim it’s a CIA plot. Guaranteed.”
Journalist Rapule Tabane weighed in on Twitter: “Iqbal Survé picks up his jacket and leaves as Alide Dasnois, an editor he fought with and hounded out is awarded the Nat Nakasa by Sanef.”
Drum editor Khosi Zwane-Siguqa told City Press “the whole audience gave her [Dasnois] a standing ovation”. She said Survé walked to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who delivered the keynote address, and whispered something in his ear before “storming out”.
But the Hogarth section in the Sunday Times quoted Survé denying that he left because he was furious at Dasnois winning the award. “Absolutely not,” he is reported to have said afterwards. “I left due to a prior engagement that I had to attend.”
Dasnois was dismissed as editor a day after Nelson Mandela died. At the time, Survé initially said it was part of a restructuring process, but later said it was because she did not carry the news of Mandela’s death on the front page of the Cape Times.
But her removal also coincided with the Cape Times publishing a front-page report on a finding by Public Protector Thuli Madonselsa against the then Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson for maladministration and improper and unethical conduct in the awarding of an R800-million tender to a Sekunjalo subsidiary. This tender was to manage fishery vessels.
Survé is the chairman of the Sekunjalo group, which now owns Independent Newspapers.
The City Press quoted Sanef executive director Mathatha Tsedu as saying: “It’s a pity that Dr Survé felt he needed to leave the event in such a manner. But it’s a free country and no one can force you to stay somewhere you don’t want to be.”
Image: Alide Dasnois