President Thabo Mbeki’s political adviser and a top government
official are among a group who want to take over the company that owns
the Sunday Times, write Buddy Naidu and Simpiwo Piliso in the Sunday Times.

Koni Media Holdings, a company belonging to Mbeki’s
adviser Titus Mafolo, Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa, former
chief of state protocol Billy Modise and a businessman have launched a
R7- billion bid for 100% of Johncom . This is despite Mvelaphanda
Holdings acquiring 30% of Johncom this week.

Following Tuesday’s announcement that Mvela had bought
the stake, the Koni shareholders scrambled to raise money and have
their bid considered by the Johncom board.

The bid, likely to go before the company’s board this
month, has been slammed by media analysts and at least one senior ANC
MP as a way of seizing control of the country’s most influential

Johncom also owns The Times, Sowetan, Daily Dispatch and
the Herald and is a 50% owner of Business Day and the Financial Mail.

The Sunday Times has established that Koni Media has been
in talks with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) — which manages
more than R700- billion of assets on behalf of the government
employees’ pension fund — to raise cash.

ANC MP Kader Asmal said it was “astonishing that civil
servants are able to develop time and energy for what is really a
takeover bid”.

Asmal said that at issue was the danger of control of
newspapers by politically active people. He urged the Department of
Public Service and Administration to “scrutinise this very carefully”.

Approached for comment, Mamoepa said: “No chief, no chief, no comment.”

Click here to read the full story, posted on the Sunday Times website.