A dish rich in irony to wash down some tough talk
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