In an extract from journalist Pieter du Toit’s new book The Stellenbosch Mafia, billionaire businessman Johann Rupert explains that he believes South Africa has reached “a point of no return,” with the possibility of Deputy President David ‘DD’ Mabuza becoming president “too close for comfort”.
While he has in the past expressed positivity about the future of the country, he now says he has lost faith in the ANC, according to the extract, which paints Rupert as angry about several things.
These include his belief that he has been unfairly cast as the face of “white monopoly capital”; his waning influence over the presidency (he says while he enjoyed close relationships with Mandela and Mbeki, and was also close to Ramaphosa in the 1990s, he has no contact with the president currently); what he describes as Sars trying to “sabotage him”; suspicions that his phone has been tapped; and the insults he endures in public.
These public insults are described in the extract as the reason his children live in the United Kingdom.
“When they are here [in SA] we don’t sleep. When they were here, they couldn’t go out in public without being insulted. It affected my family,” he said.
Rupert says he’s warned the government there would be economic consequences if Sars “ever again tries to sabotage” him.
“I have been by far the highest individual taxpayer in this country for the past 20 years. Our family companies are the biggest payers of dividends from outside into the country, more than what the rest of the JSE does combined,” he told Du Toit.
He says he believes his phone has been tapped due to the belief that he “controls the rand”, something he denies, while telling Du Toit he could do so if he wanted to.
“I have been protecting the currency, not weakening it. Investors from the US call me and ask whether they should short the rand, and I always say no. I don’t control the currency, but if I did decide to encourage people to short the rand, it would have an impact,” he said.
His personal problems aside, Rupert believes our economy may not be salvageable due to massive debt and that an “Arab Spring-type event” could take place.
“I think we’ll be at the IMF in a year’s time,” he told Du Toit, adding that he thinks there will be riots in the street if Ramaphosa doesn’t restructure the economy, which he added he no longer has faith he will be able to do.
“I’d like to have contact with Ramaphosa, but I’m not going to force myself on him,” he told Du Toit.
The recently released book caused a stir this past weekend after reports that it details a relationship between Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu and Rupert, something Shivambu denied, although he admitted to having organised a meeting with board members of his company Remgro in connection with the building of a hospital.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)