How we make Ru­pert RICH DAILY

Jo­hann Ru­pert is in your tea, on your sand­wich and on your wine list. If you’re not eat­ing him, you’re drink­ing him, writes Bonolo Ramokhele

CityPress - - Voices -

Imissed the in­ter­view dur­ing the week that had black peo­ple seething. The fol­low­ing day, I ran through Rem­gro’s sta­ble, which is one of Jo­hann Ru­pert’s com­pa­nies. I must say, Rem­gro has some good brands, in­clud­ing as it does Nola May­on­naise; Rain­bow Chicken, which is a sig­nif­i­cant sup­plier of chicken to KFC in the coun­try; Sun­bake bread, which goes well with its Yum Yum peanut but­ter; Pie­mans pies; Se­lati sugar; Yum Yum peanut but­ter for your chil­dren’s lunch­boxes; Mageu (that drink your an­ces­tors and el­ders have per­fected was branded, repack­aged and sold back to you); Ouma rusks; Rama, Stork and Flora mar­garines; Bob­tail, Cat­mor and Dog­mor for your pets; and Monati Super Ma­bela for break­fast – needs in a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of black house­holds.

When you feel like go­ing to Taboo or some other night spot, Rem­gro has you cov­ered as well. You can enjoy liquor brands that are owned by one of its in­vestee com­pa­nies. It has brands such as Hunter’s Dry, Sa­vanna and, when it’s time to have toasts at wed­dings – of which there will be plenty this month

– you can do it us­ing JC Le Roux sparkling wine.

Other brands owned by Rem­gro in­clude, among oth­ers, Three Ships Whisky, Dur­banville Hills, Oude Meester, Amarula, Viceroy and Au­tumn Har­vest.

If you need a ride to Taboo in your BMW, and if it’s fi­nanced by WesBank, then Rem­gro has you cov­ered as it is a share­holder in FirstRand, the par­ent of Wesbank, which I be­lieve is still the leader in ve­hi­cle and as­set fi­nanc­ing in the coun­try in terms of mar­ket share.

First Na­tional Bank (FNB) can sort you out with a credit fa­cil­ity if you need one as well as fi­nance your home, give you that black card, etc. And, if you need to fill up your car and you do it at Total, then Rem­gro has you cov­ered there as well, since it is a share­holder in Total SA.

It also has in­ter­ests in health in­sur­ance firms Dis­cov­ery, Out­surance and Met­ro­pol­i­tan. If you need to un­dergo a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure and Medi­clinic is your place of choice, Rem­gro has you cov­ered there as well. The irony is that as soon as we make a bit of money, one of the first things we do is to get on to med­i­cal aid so we can start us­ing hos­pi­tals like Medi­clinic.

We watch eNCA, which is partly owned by Rem­gro. It is a platform that is used by so many of the same peo­ple who fight “white monopoly cap­i­tal” – be it as an­a­lysts, politi­cians or busi­ness­peo­ple – and makes them rel­e­vant. Rem­gro also has an in­ter­est in YFM. Yes, YFM.

If you have fi­bre in your home, chances are Dark Fi­bre Africa had a hand in the lay­ing of the ca­bling, ei­ther through the back­haul or the last-mile so­lu­tion – and Rem­gro is one of the share­hold­ers in Sea­com, which I be­lieve was one of the first un­der­wa­ter ca­bles to hit the shores of South Africa.

I could go on and list more com­pa­nies owned by Rem­gro and the Ru­pert fam­ily, but that is not the point of this col­umn. The man­age­ment of Rem­gro does not force-feed us the food brands it owns, nor does it force us to take up ve­hi­cle fi­nance or buy the prod­ucts it owns. We do that will­ingly.

We must ask more telling ques­tions as to why the econ­omy of the coun­try is con­cen­trated in the hands of the few. Why do be­he­moths like the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, which is a 9% share­holder in Rem­gro, con­tinue to al­lo­cate funds to the same old play­ers?

Why is it that, 24 years af­ter democ­racy, we are still on the pe­riph­ery? In six years’ time, a child who was born in 1994 will be turn­ing 30 – and if they have their first child on the an­niver­sary of democ­racy, that child will be born into a coun­try where they will still be a mi­nor­ity in the eco­nomic par­tic­i­pa­tion land­scape, 30 years in.

I do not have the an­swers, but we must do bet­ter and change our mind-sets, buy black, own value chains and keep the money cir­cu­lat­ing among black hands at least 10 times be­fore it leaves the com­mu­nity. Our money gets into our ac­counts at month-end and im­me­di­ately goes to Wesbank and FNB Home Loans, and buys gro­ceries whose brands we do not own, and we re­peat this cy­cle monthly. We also need to put on the na­tional agenda the is­sue of cap­i­tal flow and money in this coun­try. It is as im­por­tant as the land de­bate, if not more so – be­cause, as one gent said over the week­end: “He who con­trols the money, con­trols the game.”

Lastly, I heard an “amus­ing” story a few weeks ago. I am told Ru­pert was lined up to ac­com­pany then pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki on a trip abroad with other busi­ness­peo­ple. The gov­ern­ment needed two peo­ple to sit and ad­dress an au­di­ence, along with the pres­i­dent, at a World Bank event. The apex busi­ness for­ma­tion in the coun­try at the time rec­om­mended FirstRand’s then CEO, Sizwe Nx­as­ana, to be the sec­ond busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Ap­par­ently, Ru­pert was un­happy with that ar­range­ment as he “could not share the stage with one of his employees; it wouldn’t look right”.

Rem­gro has fewer than 200 employees, yet in the last Sun­day Times Rich List I read, four of Rem­gro’s ex­ec­u­tives made the top 10 list of high­est paid ex­ec­u­tives.

I haven’t even touched on lux­ury goods hold­ing com­pany Richemont be­cause you know when you make a bit of money, you’re at the Di­a­mond Walk in Sand­ton at Cartier or Mont­blanc, just giv­ing Dr Ru­pert your money.

PS: I urge all of us to do a quick sur­vey and anal­y­sis of our spend­ing per month and check who is the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­ciary of our au­tho­ris­ing that debit or­der, mak­ing that EFT or swip­ing our cards at speed points.

Now get back to work so that come month-end, you make Ru­pert rich.

Ramokhele is a char­tered ac­coun­tant, trea­surer-gen­eral of the Black Busi­ness Coun­cil and an SA In­sti­tute of Char­tered

Ac­coun­tants’ Top 35 CA (SA) un­der 35 in South Africa

PHOTO: POWER FM

Busi­ness mogul Jo­hann Ru­pert and Given Mkhari dur­ing the 2018 Chair­man’s Con­ver­sa­tion

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