Royal Reunert deal for ANC princesses
The already rich walk away with millions
WHAT A PLEASURE it is to encounter so refreshingly frank and straightforward a chief executive as Reunert’s Boel Pretorius.
When tackled on the bizarre situation in which four lucky women, all already rich and successful, who have been, essentially, gifted well over half a billion rand’s worth of Reunert shares, Pretorius has a ready answer: “It is abnormal by nature. It’s not something we would do if it were not forced on us by Government.”
That makes sense to me. What CEO in his or her right mind would recommend doling out R135m to Cheryl Carolus, former deputy secretary general of the African National Congress, former head of Satour and once our High Commissioner at the Court of St James?
She has never worked at Reunert. In fact, had she done so, she would not have had a snowball’s hope in hell of receiving a gift of R135m from her employers. There would have been screams of anguish from other staff and from those institutional shareholders who all voted in favour of the added and instant enrichment of Carolus and her three cohorts.
She’s never done anything for Reunert. Now, of course, she (and her partners) will surely have to do something for this generous benefactor. That’s what Pretorius grasps and what others who have also made certain fortunate blacks instant multi-millionaires also grasp.
They need friends at court, and I do not mean the Court of St James. I mean the Court of His Omnipotence, as Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, has eloquently dubbed President Thabo Mbeki. And then there’s the Court at Megawatt Park, and those at Transnet, Telkom, the SA Police Service, the Defence Force, the SA Revenue Service and on and on.
That’s where Reunert needs to have friends and that, presumably, is where Carolus and her buddies – at least the black ones – come into the picture.
Pretorius agreed with the suggestion that he needs “ambassadors” in the right places. Thus, along with Carolus, Dolly Mokgatle, former head of Spoornet where she can no doubt call on old friends, and Thandi Orleyn, well plugged into the power network through her former role as national director of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and, of course, her current directorship of the SA Reserve Bank. Most useful, indeed.
Mesdames Mokgatle and Orleyn are in for R130m each of Reunert’s loot. Lagging a little at a handy R70m, is the formidable Wendy Lucas Bull who, when last I spotted her, was white. That’s sort of like having a black sitting on the board of the old Volkskas Bank and being made instantly and vastly rich. Quite, quite bizarre.
I asked Pretorius about this racial contradiction – a rich white woman becoming even richer through a BEE deal. Can you believe it? Anyway, Pretorius was ready (I suspect he always is) with a response: “We needed her for her outstanding business skills,” he replied, immediately adding that this in no way reflected on the “proven” business skills of the black ladies.
Of course, this quartet of three ANC princesses and a lily-white Northern Suburbs career woman, has other BEE irons in the fire, not least through their interest via Peotona (in which each has 25%) in the mighty De Beers Consolidated Mines.
There are probably fewer than 120 members of BEE royalty in SA. The pie is cut and served each time to the same favoured few. To mix metaphors, they keep their noses fixed firmly in the trough.
Surely this cannot be what Nelson Mandela would have wanted. He would have wanted these appetising slices of perceived “white” capital distributed among the masses rather than used to create a greedy elite who are brought on board by white management to enhance the prospects of obtaining and keeping Government and quasiGovernment business and to satisfy customers and suppliers that they are BEE compliant.
And, notwithstanding his old-world courtesy, one imagines that Madiba would have had great difficulty in accepting the spectacle of a rich white woman riding on the backs of black partners to become further enriched through BEE.
BEE is supposed to redress the wrongs of the past visited upon people of colour. How, then, does a Wendy Lucas Bull qualify as a BEE beneficiary?
The elastic morals of our institutions enable them to vote in favour of this enormous handout to which they would have objected heatedly had it gone to senior staff.
No doubt they share with Pretorius (I do like this chap) his take on reality. “We do business with Government and quasi-Government entities every day.”