Andrew Conway Gaorekwe Molusi Africa Media Matrix

Remarks about Connie Molusi on the occasion of him opening the Africa Media Matrix, 5 April 2006

By Prof Guy Berger, Head of School

Andrew Conway Gaorekwe Molusi came to Rhodes to study journalism in 1985.  He was a mature student - having gone out to work in the real world after school and earn the funds to study.  That tells you something about his character. And here’s another thing about him: he once told a group of our students, on Steve Biko scholarships sponsored by Johncom, that in those years of resistance, he was a student by day and a revolutionary by night.  Notwithstanding those late nights, he succeeded and won his degree. 

My first dealings with him were some 10 years later, by which time he had gained an MA at the Notre Dame Universitiy, and been making his mark in the media industry, working particularly at the Sapa newsagency and had subsequently become a militant official of the SAUJ. He correctly phoned me in 1995 to complain about the lack of an invitation to the body, to a major conference that we staged at the time, on freedom of information. 

Two years ago, SAUJ sadly wound up its affairs – but I’m pleased to tell Connie that the archive of the organisation is preserved for future researchers here at RU Cory Library. Yet while SAUJ is no longer with us, Connie very much is. 

After his union job, Connie went on to join Government in 1995, working with Jay Naidoo, on the RDP, and later with him as Minister of Communications, in the heady days of devising policy for the IBA, SABC, private and community broadcasting, and the unleashing of cellular telephony. 

In 2001, he joined Johnnic Publishing and became Group Chief Executive Officer of the whole enterprise in 2003. This firm is a multiple-media company that owns the Sunday Times, Business Day, FM, Elle, DD, EPH amongst many others. 

Johncom is a company that trusts its own timber, and which does not take kindly to outsiders. This was the case in regard to Mathatha Tsedu, the first African editor of the Sunday Times, who was rejected by that paper’s newsroom - leaving Connie to bite on a very bitter pill in deciding to dismiss him. 

There were other issues as well, but what was clear was that Connie is not a person for whom race trumps all else. What is also interesting about this matter is that unlike Mathatha, Connie has survived at Johncom. No other CEO appointed from the outside has stayed as long as he has at this company, and this is not least because he defied those who doubted his ability and who thought he was just a token AA appointment. In fact, the company has never performed better than under his leadership.

Of possibly greater importance, Connie is also a person who does not put politics above all else. Although he was, and probably still is, an ANC supporter, this is a still a person who stands fast when the politicos ask him to stop his editors from publishing information. In short, while a tough master, he is also one respectful of editorial independence.  He is, in short, a role model whose name we are very pleased to have associated with the Africa Media Matrix. 

Labels: ,