Hersov: Zuma’s MK is much more scary than EFF; cut it and KZN loose from SA

 In typically outspoken style, business activist Rob Hersov airs uncomfortable truths in this interview – warning that the Kremlin-funded MK party poses a massive threat to the rest of South Africa. His forthright advice to the ANC leadership and their still-to-be-confirmed coalition partners is to support KZN’s secession from SA and let the MK-dominated Zulu people determine their own future. Hersov says failure to urgently grasp this reality, or worse, attempting to govern KZN from Pretoria, will raise massive risks for the nation. He spoke to BizNews editor Alec Hogg.

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Highlights from the Interview

In a discussion with Alec Hogg, Rob Hersov, a prominent business activist, shared his insights on the current political and economic landscape of South Africa. Hersov emphasized the critical juncture the country is facing, with the ANC’s vote share plummeting to 40%. He highlighted the fracturing within the ANC and its potential alliances with either the EFF or the DA, predicting further splits and political instability. Hersov expressed grave concerns about MK’s influence, considering it a bigger threat to stability than the EFF, due to its disruptive potential and military capabilities.

Hersov criticized the EFF’s socialist rhetoric but acknowledged their pragmatic approach in coalitions, contrasting it with MK’s destructive tendencies. He stressed the importance of ANC-DA-IFP cooperation to maintain stability and attract foreign investment, crucial for economic recovery. Hersov’s international contacts view South Africa as increasingly uninvestable due to its political volatility.

He advocated for state-proofing local communities and focusing on businesses with international exposure. Hersov also suggested considering secession for regions like KZN to mitigate MK’s influence. He underscored the necessity of privatization and deregulation to drive growth and stability. Despite his deep-rooted commitment to South Africa, Hersov remains cautiously optimistic but recognizes the significant challenges ahead.

Edited transcript of the interview 

Alec Hogg (00:09.038)
Three months ago, at the business conference in Hermonis, BNC6 Rob Hersov tore up his speech and had a heartfelt discussion, ending by resigning from politics. I said he wouldn’t be out of the fray forever, and we’ve seen him on Bloomberg and other international broadcasters. Can’t keep a good man down. We have him back on business TV today.

Alec Hogg (00:39.15)
Rob, you’re participating in a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history. I’ve had fascinating discussions with France Cronier about a road to prosperity or the Chernobyl option, and John Andrews from the Institute of Race Relations, who talked about calling truth to power since 1929. This is a true pivotal moment. How are you reading the situation now, with the ANC imploding down to 40% of the vote?

Rob Hersov (01:25.787)
The ANC’s splintering was seen in advance, but not to this extent. They shed the EFF and now MK. It may splinter further. If the ANC teams up with the EFF or MK, you’ll see moderates migrate away. If the DA and ANC tie up, the ANC could drop to 30%. MPs in parliament have tended to vote with the party, but that might change. Democracy is working positively, and the ANC seems to be sticking to the constitution and rule of law. However, it’s worrying that 64% of the vote supports socialist parties.

Rob Hersov (03:20.507)
MK is a bigger threat to the country, stability, human ingenuity, and economic freedom than the EFF. The EFF is opportunistic; MK is the real threat.

Alec Hogg (03:32.654)
Come on, Rob. I disagree. The EFF has Maduro and Putin as role models. Malema has said, “Putin is us and we are Putin.” There are troll farms here run by the Kremlin. This geopolitical battle is scary. What are your insights into that?

Rob Hersov (05:04.123)
The EFF has been in coalition with the DA and ANC in municipalities and tends to be pragmatic. MK is a wrecking ball.

Alec Hogg (05:28.782)
Ekurhuleni? They’ve plundered it. How can you say that?

Rob Hersov (05:39.931)
I’m not saying the EFF is good, but MK is a bigger threat. The EFF has stagnated and been humiliated. Julius Malema, deep down, is a capitalist. Jacob Zuma, however, is close to Putin and wants to disrupt democracy.

Alec Hogg (06:39.47)
You shook up South Africa at the business BNC. Are you saying the EFF is the lesser of two evils?

Rob Hersov (07:16.027)
Yes, the EFF is the lesser of two very bad evils. Jacob Zuma’s money comes from Putin and the Guptas. MK is more of a threat because they want to disrupt democracy and the economy.

Alec Hogg (09:12.27)
Are you suggesting the ANC should do a deal with the EFF rather than the DA?

Rob Hersov (09:24.219)
No, the country would be better served by an ANC-DA-IFP coalition. We need stability, economic growth, and to bring in some FDI. We’ve got to survive the next five years, and MK is a serious threat.

Alec Hogg (10:14.094)
What are your international contacts saying about South Africa?

Rob Hersov (10:24.155)
I’m telling them if MK and EFF are part of the government, they should avoid investing here. We need a combination of ANC, DA, and IFP. A formal coalition or a confidence and supply arrangement is the best solution. We need to survive the next five years.

Alec Hogg (12:19.374)
You have a Harvard MBA and top international contacts. What are they saying about South Africa?

Rob Hersov (12:43.867)
They think it’s loony tunes here. The fact that 64% of our voting population supports socialist parties is alarming. Most of my international friends and investors are not interested in investing in South Africa. We need to fix the country first.

Alec Hogg (13:40.302)
You’ve done a lot for your country. What would be the tipping point for you to stop investing or leave South Africa?

Rob Hersov (14:14.459)
Expropriation without compensation or disarming the population would be a tipping point. My wife and I love South Africa, and I’m staying. But I’m not investing in pure South African businesses anymore. I’m focusing on businesses with international potential.

Alec Hogg (15:18.926)
You went to school in KZN. How do you see its future now that MK has emerged as a major force there?

Rob Hersov (15:40.507)
KZN is a disaster due to the Zumaites and MK. It’s unfixable. One solution is to hive off KZN to MK and IFP.

Alec Hogg (16:44.014)
If that happens, wouldn’t the pressure for Western Cape secession be irresistible?

Rob Hersov (16:50.587)
Maybe not. If MK is gone, the Western Cape will have more influence. An ANC-DA combination could create stability. We need to slice off the pieces that aren’t working, like KZN.

Alec Hogg (17:46.99)
Many South Africans look to you for guidance. What would your advice be for families here?

Rob Hersov (18:00.835)
State-proof yourself, your street, your town, your municipality. Focus on businesses with international exposure. If your children can study and build skills abroad, encourage them to do so. We need to fix the country before considering reinvesting.

Alec Hogg (19:22.51)
South African companies have one and a half trillion rand in cash on their balance sheets. What would make South Africa investable again?

Rob Hersov (19:45.179)
We need employment, safety, security, and the basics. A government of national unity focusing on deregulation and private enterprise can create opportunities. The Western Cape must control its services and rail network. We need forward-thinking governance.

Alec Hogg (21:41.71)
It’s an exciting but dangerous time. If things break the right way, this could be the best country in the world. Sum up what you’re looking for over the next 14 days and what will influence your decisions.

Rob Hersov (22:15.931)
We need Cyril Ramaphosa and his allies to focus on what’s right for the country, not the ANC. Form a coalition with the DA and multi-party coalition parties. Deliver results in the next five years. We can’t turn into Argentina with 50 years of socialism. I’m cautiously optimistic but nervous. I’d rather live here than in New Zealand, where everything’s predictable.

Alec Hogg (23:21.134)
Rob Hersov, business activist, and I’m Alec Hogg from BizNews.com.

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