BNC#6: Rob Hersov goes off script, announces retirement from politics

In a surprising turn at BNC#6 in Hermanus, Entrepreneur, activist and keynote speaker Rob Hersov ditched his meticulously crafted speech, opting for authenticity over rhetoric. Reflecting on advice from peers and family, he abandoned his scripted narrative to speak from the heart. Revealing hard truths about South Africa’s political landscape, he challenged the status quo and called for urgent reform. With a candid approach, he bid farewell to political activism, prioritising family and truth above all else.

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Edited transcript of Rob Hersov’s keynote address at the BizNews conference BNC#6 in Hermanus ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

00:08 When I listened to the description, I thought it wasn’t me speaking. Ah, there was someone else. I didn’t listen to any other politicians speak yesterday because, for once, I prepared a speech on my wife’s instructions.

00:29 For two weeks, with her assistance, I put together a beautifully written, well-constructed, and, I believe, intelligent speech, which I’m not going to make today. I really am not. And I blame five or six people I spoke to in the last 48 hours. I really do.

00:55 Andrew Van Damme. On the golf cart with him two days ago, I said, I seem to be pissing off everyone and losing friends. And he turned to me and said, how many friends do you really need? I thought about it and I thought, you’re right. You’re right, you’re right, you’re right. And then I got in the car with Warren Wheatley last night. And he said to me, he said, Rob, every time you speak, myself and all my friends…

01:28 feel guilty that we aren’t saying the same thing. And I’m very grateful you’re doing it. Thank you very much. Sean Summers last night. What a superb presentation. You should have been there.

01:49 He didn’t miss a trick, he spoke out, he was honest, he called out incompetence and evil. He was world-class.

02:01 And it makes me guilty really for calling all South African corporates cowards and colluders because there are extraordinary people like him and others that are speaking out. Black pen. Penwell. who, if you don’t know, is one of the biggest podcasters in Africa. He and Mack G are being on both of those. And they speak from the head and from the heart. And then Franz Kronier, 15 minutes ago, further put a knife through the heart of the speech I was going to make. And I blame all of you for doing this to me because the speech was from the head, but not from the heart.

02:45 And this morning, my wife and children sent me a message saying good luck daddy, good luck hubby, you’re gonna do well, it’ll come from the heart and that was it. I put an end to my speech. But what I am going to do is summarize it for you, okay? And I’m more than happy to hand it to you, you can print it out if you want to and you make a decision whether it was, would have been worth making or not. And I might not even make it to 20 minutes. So you can then beat me up longer in the Q&A.

03:14 In the last three years since my fateful speech in the Drakensberg at BizNews went viral and I became an unwilling, unintentional political activist, capitalist activist, I have said the following things. That South Africa is uninvestable under the ANC. That the ANC, anyone still voting for the ANC is a moron. And then I defined what a moron was called Fikile Mbalula one. I’m probably a writer on that score.

03:45 And I actually apologize for that, and I’ll tell you why in a little bit. It’s not what you expect. I said that the current South African cabinet is made up of clowns, criminals, incompetents. I think I threw in ballerinas as well. I can’t remember why. But the South African corporate sector are cowards and colluders for not standing up and calling out evil where they see it, despite they could just read the Zondo commission and say, fair enough.

04:11 I even said that Eskom was being run by the Mafia supported by the ANC before André de Ruyter said that, on SABC. He called me last week to say we should work together. I said the SOEs have been destroyed by the ANC by cadres through general incompetence and thievery. I said BEE is theft. I named names endlessly.

04:41 I don’t get invited too much anymore by the way. I called Cyril, and I don’t call him Mr. President or Your Excellency, I called Cyril spineless in front of the Thule house when I marched with the DA and 4,000 others and then got chased down the road by 50 people trying to kill me.

05:01 And in every single one of these cases, I was one of the first, if not the first to say so. And you may not remember, but three years ago, three years ago, no one said boo to the ANC. It was this above reproach, liberation, Old Testament, as Sean Summers said, organization.

05:25 And today…I promised my wife this is my last political act of the speech because it has put a massive strain on my family. I’ve enjoyed moments of it, but I’m not thick-skinned like those incredible politicians yesterday who put up with endless, endless attacks and horrible situations. And you know the expression, if you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss starts staring into you.

05:56 But I feel I’ve done my bit. I’ve told the truth. I’ve told it like it is. And now others need to step up and do the same because my children don’t know why they’re scared. And that’s not a good thing. So let me just tell you some of the key truths that I wanted to tell you in my original speech. One, Jacob Zuma is by far the most popular politician in this country, by far, including in the Eastern Cape.

06:25 I know most of you don’t believe it, it is true. The ANC is being funded by Iran through MTN. And Zuma is being funded by Russia.

06:40 Jacob Zuma has no money. Everyone assumes he stole this country dry. He let everyone else steal the country dry. He was a disaster. But he just was Father Christmas, Santa Claus, didn’t take any himself. He’s actually bankrupt. The ANC is sick and dying, but they’re still in ICU, and the brand is still very strong. And you may not realise it, but from… 1994 to about 2014.

07:14 The ANC delivered significant and pragmatic benefits to its voters. And this is what Sean Summers called the Old Testament on the ANC. They did a good job. They loved the country and they delivered. But from about 2014 onwards, the rottenness, corruption, and evil came in. So you can never say that the ANC didn’t love this country. They did. But they don’t love it now.

07:47 And ANC support has collapsed. And this is where I need to apologize for calling anyone who stole votes for ANC as a moron. Because they realize the damage that their government is doing. They do realize we’re collapsing, we’re deindustrialization, deindustrializing. The country is falling apart. They know that and they are deserting the ANC. But the weakness

08:17 They failed to convert ANC voters due to internecine rivalry. The DA works tirelessly, but its policies don’t fit our reality. The rugged truth about South Africa: Crime is a necessity for many. Most South Africans don’t understand how government works. Our apathy towards poverty is our biggest threat.

09:13 My speech had a solution: prescribed assets, inward industrialization, and policies like Eskom, Transnet, SAA. The corporate sector holds 1.5 trillion Rand in cash, unused. These areas could fund a reconstruction bond of 100 billion US dollars.

10:11 The bond, needing only a government guarantee, must be run by skilled individuals. If we had a decent government, we’d have all this by now. I’d have mentioned Moeletsi Mbeki’s five mortal sins. But you need to know I’ve never been hungry or worried about essentials, unlike many South Africans.

11:10 We need to stand up and fix our country despite the limited time before the election. We’ve run out of time for voter registration and education, but not for calling out what’s wrong.

12:29 A message to Cyril: You have 77 days to save your reputation. Resign from the ANC today and advocate for change. You could be a hero, but time is running out.

14:10 Eskom is crucial in this election, showing ANC failure. Thank you for the disaster at Eskom.

15:11 Gayton McKenzie and Mmusi haven’t taken big donor donations. They offer manifestos without constraint. Open your mind to their potential.

17:31 With two minutes to go, I’m done with political activism. Thank you for your support. And to my wife, I’m back.

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*The above transcript has been condensed and paraphrased for brevity and clarity, and may not capture the full context or nuances of the original speech delivered by Rob Hersov at the Biznews conference, BNC#6.

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