A dish rich in irony to wash down some tough talk

Sunday Times - - News The A-listers -

From the bil­lion­aire Be­y­oncé bringer to the mon­ey­bags some­times called the face of white monopoly cap­i­tal …

This was the sec­ond in­stal­ment of the Power 98.7 Chair­man’s Con­ver­sa­tion. The first time for­mer prez Thabo Mbeki was in the hot seat. This year Given Mkhari got cosy on the couch with busi­ness mono­lith Jo­hann Ru­pert.

And the sec­ond-rich­est man in the land — whose com­pa­nies own ev­ery­thing from lux­ury Swiss jeweller Cartier to

Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco and size­able chunks of lo­cal banks, med­i­cal clin­ics and al­co­hol pur­vey­ors — didn’t bite his tongue when asked for his take on the cur­rent state of af­fairs.

As I ar­rive at the Gal­le­ria event venue in Marl­bor­ough, Sand­ton, on Tues­day evening, there is not a red beret in sight (a whole EFF con­tin­gent led by Julius Malema showed up last year, os­ten­si­bly to seek for­give­ness for his role in Thabo’s down­fall).

In­stead, the first guests to ar­rive in­clude Paul Har­ris, the for­mer CEO of First Rand (the bank of which Jo­hann owns a share), fund man­ager Rurik Go­bel and Sam Hack­ner, who tells me he’s re­tired from In­vestec Prop­erty af­ter 36 years but will still be in the game: he’s set­ting up shop with his kids.

Then there is one of the coun­try’s great­est golfers, Ernie Els (“As you get older it gets worse,” he says when I ask about his hand­i­cap on the greens) and some­one who has the gift of get­ting cor­po­rate heavy­weights to open their wal­lets, De­sign Ind­aba’s Ravi Naidoo.

Glam­our comes in the form of for­mer Miss SA Tatum Kesh­war, there with her cam­erashy part­ner, War­ren Wheat­ley. Tatum tells me she’s swapped her PR gig at KwaZulu-Natal’s Zim­bali for mommy du­ties at a Sand­hurst pile. I spot mar­ket­ing king­pins Syd­ney Mbele and Romeo Ku­malo, and in swans my fav broad­caster, Iman Rap­petti, who, un­like Given, proved she’s no wilt­ing wall­flower around Jo­hann.

I am sure you would have heard of the Twit­ter furore that erupted as the broad­cast got un­der way, with the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man not shy­ing away from lay­ing his cards on the ta­ble.

“Yes, I am white or, I mean, a white per­son. Show me a monopoly we have had, just one please,” he replied when asked about that “white monopoly cap­i­tal” moniker, point­ing out that paras­tatals like Eskom con­trol their mar­kets, but down­play­ing that he and his busi­ness bud­dies of the paler per­sua­sion still have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate hold on our econ­omy.

He did, though, pro­vide plenty for us to chew on as he rolled with his PC-un­fil­tered punches — and for his speak­ing plainly we should, at least, be thank­ful.

This, though, is a so­cial and not a so­cial­ist col­umn, so let me tell you about the grub, which in­cluded lamb chops, mash and car­rots served in the sort of enamel mugs favoured by min­ers.

Tatum Kesh­war Ravi Naidoo, Nom­n­deni Mdakhi and Syd­ney Mbele Paul Har­ris, Rurik Go­bel, Ernie Els and Sam Hack­ner

Jo­hann Ru­pert

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