Rupert spitting in Tata’s face
Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the death of free South Africa’s first president, Nelson Mandela.
As has become tradition, there were many events across the country to mark the day and to remember the man who, for many decades, became the face of the liberation Struggle against racial oppression in this country. Rightly so, Mandela is celebrated not only by those he helped liberate but even by those who, for many years, stood diametrically opposed to the ideals of a democratic and nonracial society he sought. They too celebrate him today because they recognise that, in the final analysis, the end of apartheid was their liberation too. The end of the conflict did not only mean that they can now freely travel the world without being isolated by others because they were from an apartheid country. It also meant that they could now fully enjoy their rights as South African citizens under a constitution that protects every individual.
One South African who benefited from the system of racial economic exclusion of blacks, even though he insists that he personally opposed it, is multibillionaire Johann Rupert. He clearly considers himself one of Mandela’s big fans and a patriotic South African.
However, much of what he said during his conversation with Power FM boss Given Mkhari on Tuesday night exposed him as someone who still does not fully appreciate that much of his, and his family’s, wealth is as a result of the skin colour.
His remarks about some of the country’s ethnic groups, and black people in general, revealed a tycoon who holds stereotypical views and is in denial about the continued exclusion of black people from the mainstream of the economy. The failure of black business to make any meaningful impact on the economy is not because black entrepreneurs prefer to blow the little they have at trendy Sandton clubs and on flashy cars, it is largely because economic opportunities continued to be denied to them, especially in the private sector. The Ruperts may or may not have supported the Nats, but apartheid policies did give them an advantage that no black entrepreneur at the time would have dreamt of. So Rupert has no right to suggest that Afrikaners succeeded because they work hard.