Ru­pert spit­ting in Tata’s face

Sowetan - - Opinion -

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.

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