JOHANNESBURG — Publisher and editor of BizNews, Alec Hogg, is currently in South Africa for a short visit to deliver a series of presentations around the country. In this presentation – which was delivered to guests of Sabinet at Midrand’s Gallagher Estate on 14 June 2017 – Hogg delves into some of the forces shaping South Africa’s current contested political and economic landscape. He believes it’s the beginning of the end for the Zuptas and that the country’s young democracy has undergone a learning experience through the process. He also took questions from the audience and provided his perspective on what South Africans can gleam from recent developments. – Gareth van Zyl
Keynote by Alec Hogg to clients of Sabinet; Gallagher Estate, 14 June 2017
We live in a complex world. One made even more confusing because we’re only beginning to grasp the revolution that we’re living through. A revolution called The Information Age, a term dubbed decades back but not appreciated. Until now.
Information is and always has been power. Knowing more than your fellows has been the way to wealth, health and happiness. For centuries it has been the ultimate differentiator used to create and maintain the elites.
And then about 30 years ago, these centuries old power equations were turned on their heads. The Internet democratised information. Suddenly, we have access to everything we can possible want to know. Information is power. And now, power is available to all.
This is the core concept. Once we absorb this, “get” this, a lot of confusing stuff starts falling into place. And quickly we start becoming excited by that which used to scare us.
For the next half hour I’m going to share a few stories with you about South Africa. They will help you get a better handle on why more people than ever before are thinking of emigrating. But they will also explain why we’re now at that period just before the sunshine breaks through – the darkest time just before the dawn.
And for the second half of this presentation we’ll flesh out the thesis with your questions. The more challenging the better.
Like all good stories, each of today’s will be illustrated by a picture. Here’s the first one – the only graph among them, but something worth a thousand words.
This shows how much money South Africa’s government has borrowed on behalf of taxpayers expressed as a percentage of the size of the economy.
Anyone who has let a credit card take control during a retail therapy session knows debt is not a good thing. It’s certainly not a gift anyone would willingly accept. Debt it costly because it needs to be serviced through interest payments; and also has to be repaid.
In a developing country like South Africa, debt is a necessary evil. Development requires investment. Although it’s much better for the private sector to be making those investment, sometimes there’s a justification for taxpayers to pay up. Specifically when their money is used for infrastructure the private sector isn’t keen to invest in.
This picture tells the real story of the ANC Government’s management of South African taxpayers’ resources. For the first 15 years of ANC rule, the country was blessed with it Presidents who listened to their financial officers. During this time the debt burden fell, which meant a lower interest bill, thus freeing up national resources.
Since Jacob Zuma took office on 9 May 2009, national debt has been rising in a straight line. It is now 52% and headed higher. In the commentary to its explanation of last week’s downgrade, ratings agency Moody’s estimated that the ratio will hit 55% next year and continue to rise.
This is not a good thing.
How did it happen? And what do we have to show for it?
The illustration to our second story shows four gentlemen en route to Parliament to present the mini Budget of 2015. It’s a terrific pic of the four men then entrusted to provide some brake on Zuma’s worst financial excesses, then DG of Treasury Lungisa Fuzile; then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene; then deputy Finmin Mcebisi Jonas; and on the far right SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane.
Only one of them still occupies his post. The guy who is smiling.
On the far left-hand side is Fuzile, Director General of Finance, a technocrat, a much respected, highly educated, highly qualified and an excellent leader of the Treasury. He left Treasury earlier this year. Next to him is the first Black African Finance Minister of South Africa, the highly respected Nhlanhla Nene. He comes from KZN, he was appointed to that post in 2014 when Pravin Gordhan refused to sign the nuclear deal. Nhlanhla Nene, you might remember was fired in December 2015 and all kinds of chaos occurred thereafter. He was supposedly going to be redeployed the Brics Bank – we know the story, it didn’t happen. But even now you can see his face is quite glum and he wasn’t very happy about perhaps what he knew was coming.
Next to him is another national hero and I call these gentlemen national heroes because they have stood up against unbelievable pressure. He’s Mcebisi Jonas, the Deputy to Nhlanhla Nene. Mcebisi Jonas survived when Nene was fired because everything happened so quickly. He has had previously been offered the top job by the Guptas, along with a fortune of R600m – provided he did their bidding.
In December 2015 when Nene was fired, the stock market tanked, the Rand crashed, bond prices plummetted, borrowing prices went up and as a consequence the president at whose decision it was change the finance minister was then forced within four days to get rid of the weekend special (Des van Rooyen) and bring in Pravin Gordhan.
So that was what happened there and then the last man in this picture is smiling. His name is Tom Moyane and Tom Moyane is the Head of South African Revenue Services (SARS).He’s also related, by marriage to Jacob Zuma, the President and he seems quite happy with the state of affairs, whereas everybody else is not. Why he is so happy, one doesn’t know.
Nene was fired, not too long after this picture was taken Gordhan was re-established or re-appointed because he had to be. He then started attacking Tom Moyane and the reason for that was when Moyane went to SARS, Revenue Services, he got rid of all Gordhan’s people, more than a hundred people were actually taken out of the system and unfortunately, the consequence or the reason for that is pretty scary. There’s a cigarette factory owned by Edward Zuma in Pietermaritzburg that hasn’t been paying customs and excise duties and so on and so forth. This is now a matter of public record and we’ve seen what’s been happening in South Africa over this period.
I don’t want to depress you because you can get depressed enough by reading the stories on BizNews or anywhere else every day, but that picture tells us what’s happened in the last year. This is a picture of a gentleman called Ernest Hemingway, who I’m sure you know lots about. When Hemingway wrote his book called, “The Sun Also Rises”, he had one of his characters ask the other, “How do you go bankrupt?” and the character said to him, “Gradually, then suddenly” and that is what happens in life, in the big things in life. It’s “gradually, then suddenly” and that’s where we are in South Africa. We’re at a point of gradually, then suddenly.
Pravin Gordhan, when he was fired in the midnight reshuffle in the end of March, said to us, he treated us, “Join the dots” he said. “Join the dots, South Africa”. So let’s join a few. It’s 2016, the Gupta family gaps it out of Lanseria, April 2016, do you remember the story, they got their aeroplane full of bags and off they went to Dubai, gone, Guptas gone. May 2016, the month later, the Gupta family was exposed to have bought a house for R450m in Dubai, one of the most expensive houses in one of the most expensive parts in the world and that was where they were staying. In August 2016, we had the municipal elections in South Africa. The impossible happened, the ANC lost control of four of the six metropoles. How was that possible, how did Madiba’s party lose control of four of the six metropoles?
Then in November 2016, Thuli Madonsela, another national hero released the report that she’d done into State Capture. It’s only the other day that that happened. We’ve had marches subsequent to that on Parliament, we’ve had a Cabinet reshuffle where different people have been put into different places and while all of this is happening, while all of this is going on, South Africans were starting to get very worried. Home Affairs will tell you that they’ve never had so many applications for unabridged marriage certificates and birth certificates. Why, because that is something people need if they’re going to emigrate. I live in London, we’re globalising our business, we’ve been there for a year now. We’ve probably got another year in London, then another year in America before we come home; we meet South Africans all the time.
They are scared; they are worried. They don’t know what’s happening with their country. But what is happening in our country is actually something incredibly special. I’ll just read you a few names. The Helen Suzman Foundation, the FW de Klerk Foundation, OUTA, the Institute of Race Relations, AfriForum, Save South Africa, Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law, Right To Know, Earthlife Africa, Quaker Peace Centre and you can add a whole lot of more names to it as well. These are non-government organisations that are investigating why Pravin Gordhan was fired.
They’re investigating how the Guptas arrived in South Africa – initially not allowed by the way. Dirco (the Department of International Relations and Cooperation) was asked to put together a list of names of Indian companies that they would like to bring into South Africa in 1994, so Dirco did. Somehow, because the Gupta family, even then, had been engaging with government officials – the High Commissioners – they got on the list. Tata, Neotel, etc., big companies and the Guptas. Government said, “No, we don’t’ want you. You don’t qualify. You’re just a small little family group from a Saharanpur, which is in the middle of kind of nowhere”.
Somehow they managed to get back on the list and when you do what Pravin Gordhan says, you trace the dots, that’s where it all began. We now have a situation where the information flow has been extreme. Remember, “Gradually, then suddenly” and the “suddenly” is here, the “suddenly” has arrived. All of the Guptas emails for the last however many years have been downloaded by somebody and distributed to media outlets. They will soon, I’m assured, be put onto the internet through Wiki links or something like that, so each of us can go there and go and search through all of those emails and discover exactly what was going on. In the meantime, we’re getting the information coming out day by day and that information is extremely damaging to those who’ve been eating. The whole Gupta story is something that has had an immense impact.
Talking to the guys and the NGOs, of whom I met with some this week, they said they are being approached increasingly now by people within state organisations. At the top there might be corruption, but most people in our country and everywhere else actually want to just do a good day’s work and put their kids through university and the amount of people who are now coming through and saying, “We don’t like what so and so has been doing”. I read a piece yesterday, somebody passed on to me, which was written by the staff in International Relations having a go at their DG, the staff of International Relations, an open letter, which for some reason never got into the media, saying, “We know how you got your house, we know the bribes you’ve been taking, we know who paid for your bakkie, we know etc.”
What happens in a case like this is that when the information comes into the public domain, suddenly people who were fearful in the past are involved, ”gradually, then suddenly”. So what happens next? Well, we’ve seen this week already, some people like Gert Van Der Merwe; the lawyer of the Guptas, has turned state witness. Isn’t that interesting? If you have a look at this picture, the fellow there behind them all is my tip for the next person’s table turning state witness. His name is Nazeem Howa. Nazeem Howa worked with the Guptas, ran their media enterprise (he’s the chap second from the right) called the New Age and ANN7 between November 2010 and he left in October 2016 last year. He was very outspoken, suddenly he left. Why did he leave?
Remember what happens in a case like this is replicated what happened in Brazil. Brazil had something called Operation Car Wash. The richest man in Brazil went to jail. He’s still sitting in jail. The former President of Brazil, Lula, and the president thereafter, Rousseff, are both facing criminal charges. The system works, the constitution works, good does triumph over evil, although, sometimes it does look a little bit difficult. All of those in this picture, including the Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, have been fingered very, very much in the Gupta emails. Well, you can imagine if you’re busy running a crooked enterprise you’ve got to communicate with each other and up they come up in 200 000 emails which show exactly what’s been going on in our country under our watch, what’s been going on with your money, with that debt that’s been rising. And the good people of South Africa don’t like it anymore.
They’re not fearful anymore; they’re talking out. We’re running a little book within BizNews and we’re saying, who are the most likely people to come out and turn state witness. Well, we know Gert van der Merwe: the Gupta lawyer has already done it. We think Nazeem Howa is probably next. Then there’s a fellow called Mark Pamensky, who was the Chief Operating Officer of the Gupta mothership, who was put onto the board of Eskom during the time that Eskom did some really strange things. Incidentally, within Eskom, people are also feeding information now to the NGOs. At the NPA, people are feeding information, talking to the NGOs saying, “How can we work together?” Even at the Hawks and the police force – this is happening.
People down the line are now starting to let their voices be heard. We also think that another possibility is the very famous Saxonwold duo, Brian Molefe and today Ben Ngubane who had criminal charges laid against him for R50m in bribes that he took by manipulating Ithala, which is where I’m from, KZN, which is actually a finance business for the poor. He got R50m debt which he refuses to pay, well, written off etc. We also think a fellow called Eric Wood, who’s a forex trader for the Guptas… The Guptas say he’s and stock/forex trader who made presumably a lot of money in the Cabinet reshuffle because you have this information, you will make plenty of money ahead of the time.
Also, there’s a guy called Gary Naidoo. We don’t think Khulubuse Zuma will be on the list and we’re not sure about Edward Zuma, but those of you who listened to the Power FM interview with him a couple of weeks ago would have found there’s an interesting fellow as well. So what happens next, but really what I’m taking you through, that thing’s happened, the world is changing, people are going to go to jail. You can see it, it’s all coming out. The truth comes out, when the truth comes out in a country which has a rule of law which we do in our country, people go to jail.
So what happens next, what’s the next step?
Something amazing that’s happened is happening in France right now. There is a guy there called Emmanuel Macron. He’s only 39 years old. He’s been elected the French President. He has never stood for Parliament ever. What he decided 14 months ago, was that he was sick of what was going on in France. So he created a political party, a political party created from nothing 14 months ago. It’s called La République En Marche, or LRM. They’ve had the first stage of the elections in France, they do it in two stages and in the first stage of the elections, this party that he’s created 14 months ago is set to win 400 of the final 770 seats in the French government (the previously political party that ran it, the Socialist Party). They ran for five years, it’s gone from 271 seats in Parliament to 30. Think about this, the world is changing because we have information.
The French have information. How did the French do it? How is this unknown guy called Macron suddenly the President in France? Well, what he did when he started his political party, he said, “Let’s get the best people to go to Parliament for us, apply online”. There are 19 000 applications for Parliamentary posts, 19 000 of which they picked 525 to stand, most of those, as you here are getting voted in by the normal voters in their different constituents and most of those, 250 of them have never stood for a political office ever before. They’re calling this the second French Revolution.
The First French Revolution 1779 sparked the American Revolution and many other revolutions around the world where republics were born, where the individual was put back in the ascendency, where the elites were destroyed, the elites that were abusing the system because those in the system didn’t have the information. I don’t know if this is South Africa’s future, but what I do know is this is not South Africa’s future. I leave this part of the presentation with a quote. You can Google it, it’s on the internet. Jacob Zuma says, “If it were up to me and I made the rules, I would ask for six months as a dictator. You would see wonders. South Africa would be put straight. If you give me six months and allow Zuma to be a dictator, you would be amazed”. Absolutely, Google it, watch it and know the country that we could have been, but won’t be. Thank you. Okay, easy questions, anyone, Sir?
I see you sort of have a bit of an optimistic tone, that you should know. The first year of globalising the business, you seem to be hedging your bets, but what could be an optimistic turnout? To add to that, could the French – what happened there where you talk about information changing everything. Information changes things for us, but the masses of South Africa don’t necessarily have literacy and information at their fingertips like we do, so doesn’t that prevent us from benefiting from all the changes?
Okay, so there are two points on that one. First, I’m not hedging my bets. We’re a South African company, we pay taxes in South Africa, it’s a startup that is a remote business. We serve South Africans both here and internationally and if you want to serve South Africans in South Africa, you need to find out what the rest of the world’s doing. We’re a very small part of the world, 0.6% of global GDP and this smart thing is to diversify your assets, but if you don’t’ know what’s going on in the rest of the world, how do you do that, if you don’t know where the rest of the world’s developing, how do you do that? What we did, we think there’s a great opportunity. I started Moneyweb in 1997 above my garage. I was one employee, built it into a company that we listed on the stock market and then developed it to the stage where we have had (they have. I don’t have anymore), considerable interests in radio and international interests as well.
At some point, Mineweb used to generate more profit for the company than Moneyweb did here in South Africa. Mineweb was run out of London, so globalisation is something. It’s a huge opportunity for South Africa because we are highly skilled people with a very undervalued currency. Our currency is much weaker than it should be but unfortunately, because we’re a developing country, it’s likely to stay that way. We have very smart people who can leverage that. The second point, just because they’re poor doesn’t mean they’re dumb, very, very important issue.
What we start off with, our premise at BizNews is to say, “Never underestimate the intelligence of the ordinary man, but always, you can never overestimate the amount of information that he has at his fingertips”. Information has been democratised now. You have a guy sitting anywhere in the world, anywhere in South Africa who can access Harvard Business School, Yale business School, if they have the initiative to do so and we do know that the one thing that we do have in our country is we have a hunger to do better. Don’t get deviated from the reality by looking at the enriched few, the few elite, those who swapped places with others who had a lighter skin colour.
They are not the future, the future is the next Einstein who could have been born last week in Gugulethu because the next, that little kid born in Gugulethu, has got the information, the access to information that we didn’t have in the past. When I was growing up, how did you get the kind of information we heard about this morning? It wasn’t possible, you couldn’t get government gazettes. You went to your local library and hoped that you would find information that was relevant to you. The greatest entrepreneur in the world today is a South African boy from Pretoria called Elon Musk. He is transforming three industries, space, motor vehicles and renewable energy, three industries, not one, three.
They love him in America. Sadly, he left our country when he was 17 years old and he’s developing in the United States, but on Elon Musk, if the new government were to ask him, “Come on Elon, come and help us, give us some insight, give us some perspectives”, there’s no doubt he would do so. The reason I use him as an example is, he grew up in the same country we grew up in. He grew up before the internet – how did he get so smart? He went to the library, he had to and he read through every book that was relevant to him in the library and then eventually when he ran out of books he read through the encyclopaedia twice. So, it’s all about information and access to it, but if you don’t have it all, if your school’s books aren’t being delivered to you, what chance have you got? Those are the realities of the opportunity that exist to us and the realities the internet brings to us.
If I don’t have a book; I have the web, I have that information from the best universities in the world. There’s a company in Cape Town owned by the Paddock brothers, which has been sold for $100m. This is Cape Town, remember? They signed some deals with MIT, the most difficult university in the United States to get in to, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and Oxford University and they got their courses, they put them online, made them available online and sold them back into the world. That’s South African ingenuity. It exists, it’s here, we have the potential, it’s like a key that’s being unlocked, but at the moment the unfortunate position is that we’re coming through this transition and we haven’t kind of clicked to it yet, but I’m not optimistic, I’m realising, but I’m out here doing my best.
I believe this is a country of unbelievable potential and opportunity and with the changes that we have seen gradually and suddenly” but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s very hard. When you’re in a wood, you can’t see which way the trees, the wind is blowing. If we can step away from it, as I have the privilege of being seeing it from London, the centre of the financial universe, you can see some very interesting developments and the list of issues that I went through. That was a very long answer. I’m sorry.
I’m just a bit curious. You spoke about NGOs. I want to know what constitutional institution, Chapter 9 institutions. What is your view on their contribution to turning around the country?
The contribution of the office of the Public Protector under Thuli Madonsela?
Yes and the AG.
And sorry, the..?
…and the Auditor General, yes let’s not underestimate the Auditor General, has been immense. The Chapter 9 institutions have transformed this country, have rescued this country from a fate that we would all have looked back on and said, “But how did we let it happen to us?” Both of those institutions have been waving flags bravely. You know, just understand how the Guptas work. This is how it happens. You are a bright young man Mosebenzi Zwane; you work in the Free State legislature. We have a guy, we have more mines, it’s always more, more, give me more, how do I get more, how do I get more wealth, billions aren’t enough. I want hundreds of billions, so how do I now access more mineral rights?
This Ramatlhodi, who’s sitting there, let’s say he’s not interested in giving me more mineral rights. In fact, he won’t take my call, so I don’t want Ramatlhodi, I need this young man. Now this young man says, “I’m a politician, I would like to be in a more senior position, or maybe these people can facilitate it, I’ll be their friends”. So Ramatlhodi gets fired or redeployed to a different portfolio, Zwane gets put there and what does he do, he has a gun against his head. He now has to affect things like the deal they did with Glencore where Optimum Mine was effectively stolen from an international investor, but he’s in no situation to do that and as long as there is a veil of silence or a conspiracy of silence, you can get away with stuff. But then along comes Thuli Madonsela who says, “Hang on a minute, that’s not the way things work in our country”.
Under-resourced as she was, she somehow managed to put her head down and to deliver a report which included an interview with the President which you have to listen to. South Africans say, “Oh, fake news” this, that. Just listen to that interview she has with the President, the most humble, the most quiet, in her little voice, her soft voice, she asks the questions which all of us would like to hear and she gets the responses that shock us. Chapter 9 institutions have played an unbelievable role in this country and they have reflected all of the people. Remember, we’re a young democracy, we’re a very young democracy, we’re fumbling a whole lot. If you were to go back and have a look at when democracy dawned in France, I spoke about them earlier, what did they do?
They just chopped everyone’s heads off that they didn’t like, good, bad, he does that well and not giving me a bribe to peg off. The United States, they had corrupt politicians for decades where people would pay backhanders. We’re only just 20 years old. Something had to happen. Somebody had to try and take their chances, take an opportunity, but the Chapter 9 institutions have stood up and the Auditor General has been waving flags for years. Now, everybody’s listening.
Two questions: This falls under, why is Glencore quiet? Why have they not said that they are stolen? There’s all this hoo-ha, so why are they quiet? Secondly, as we’re joining the dots, we can see that a number of people are going to be hiding in Dubai. So, what is the likelihood of getting those people back here and getting them tried in the legal system and recovering some of the money that has been stolen?
Those are two beautiful questions which we wouldn’t have asked six months ago. The first one, Glencore. I listened to the webcast of the Annual General Meeting and there’s a shareholder activist from South Africa called Theo Botha who went all the way to Switzerland to go to that meeting and I know he was there because he did ask a question. I was waiting and hoping that something would be raised about Optimum, something would be raised about what happened in that situation. But sometimes businesses are complicit by their silence, you might remember that not long after the Optimum Mines saga, South Africa’s strategic oil reserves were sold en masse, the whole lot. We have strategic oil reserves, if something happens, there’s a… whatever. You need to have strategic oil reserves in a country.
They were sold, the whole lot. It was called “rotation” by the then Energy Minister. The new Energy Minister has said that’s not the case and the new Energy Minister, and this must give you hope, said “Let’s investigate, let’s find out what’s going on”. The question, to answer the question with another question is to say, “Why was Glencore selected as a broker in the sale of those oil reserves?” On the second point (I got so caught up there) what’s going to happen to the expedition. Bell Pottinger is a financial and investor relations firm based in London. We know them well at BizNews because they’re trying to sue us for stories that we were doing. In fact, the Guptas are, through the Guptas who were paying them £100 000.00 a month, Bell Pottinger got a legal firm to send us very harsh lawyer’s letters from London and said we would be sued in London. This is no joke because you have to pay in Pounds.
There is a campaign both by people in this country and by people in the UK, South Africans in the UK to close Bell Pottinger down. Whether that is sufficient retribution, if you like, for the damage that they’ve caused to this country through their fake news campaigns and inventions of issues that divide us, divide and rule, remember, it’s a lot of people love that, the way they’re approached, they try to divide South Africans, they try to bring race into the issue. They’ve done exactly the opposite to what Madiba was trying to get us to pull together as a country. Whether that’s that kind of retribution, will be reflected across the board, is anybody’s guess, but these things have a way of working themselves out, so that those who have perpetrated the crimes don’t become an example.
Well, it’s fine, it’s okay, he’ll steal money and then you can just duck off to Dubai. At some point in time, the net will close. All we can do at the moment, is be assured that the information that is coming out of all of those NGOs, be it the Attorney General’s office, the Gupta leaks, the SACC. You know, you only get change in a society when you get two organisations involved. It’s happened during Apartheid, you had lots of NGOs in Apartheid, but you know you had the students. You know what they did and the churches are involved as well. So the momentum, if you like, is irresistible, “gradually, then suddenly”.
Now when you spoke about earlier that you guys are running a poll as to who’s going to turn as a state witness next.
It was just fun.
More just a fun thing and like the political climate that’s going on in South Africa currently, if we look at Hlaudi Motsoeneng who was held accountable and Ben Ngubane who resigned… In your view, who do you think would be the next people to be held accountable, if you look at the mess at the SABC, all the state-owned entities, Eskom, SANRAL, SASSA, and all those places? All that information is public knowledge, so it is in the public domain. If we look at the grants fiasco earlier this year, in your opinion, who do you think is the next person that will be placed in the public spotlight and outed (if you can say that)?
There is a long list and they have been very clearly implicated by the Gupta emails. They’ve been identified a long time ago. Vytjie Mentor was called to Saxonwold. She went past the room where the President was sitting to sit with the Guptas who said, “We are going to make you Minister of Public Enterprises”. The condition is that you drop SAA’s route to India, which is the most profitable route that SAA had and Vytjie Mentor, to her eternal credit, turned them down and then berated the President, to say, “How can you do this?” She never went public, but she thought it was only her, but it wasn’t long afterwards that she heard Mcebisi Jonas tell his story, that she said, “Hang on, he happened to do the same thing to me” answering on Facebook.
Again, the Information Act, if she phoned up a newspaper and said, “This has happened to me” in the old days, the newspaper would say, “Ooh hell, we don’t want to get sued”. But she put it on Facebook and away we went. Those are the national heroes who exist in this society. Outside of that veneer, that Kabal, the depth of national heroes is long and deep and once you get, for instance like Paul O’Sullivan, I’ve done quite a lot of work with him, he’s a forensic investigator and another man who deserves incredible accolades because of the risks, personal and professional that he’s taken, he says 90% of the people in SA Police Services are good, honest human beings. They’ve just been really badly manipulated by those who were appointed there for nefarious reasons. So, it all comes out. Brazil gives us a good example.
In Brazil, people are being charged. They’re being thrown into jail. I had an interview last week with a lady called Cris Correa. If you want to read an amazing book, it’s called “Dream Big”, something we should all be doing. Cris wrote “Dream Big”. It was a book about 3G Capital. It’s a worldwide bestseller, a Brazilian firm that now owns SABMiller for instance. They’re the biggest brewer in the world; they’re the company that bought SABMiller. They also own Kraft Heinz, which is one of the biggest food companies in the world and she said, “In Brazil we are going through a very tough time at the moment because we’re cleaning up the mess”. Cleaning up the mess is what we know; we’re quite good at it here.
We started in 1994; I remember those first few years. We even won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 against all the odds maybe because then we won the African Cup of Nations (I don’t think we’ve won it since) in 1996 because we pulled together as a country and as we start pulling together as a country as we realised that actually there is a whole lot more that we can do together than apart and it’s happening. It’s the reality, it’s the new world and the people who have taken advantage of this and who have sowed division and who have sowed hate will realise that love always overcomes hate and where was love invented, what is Ubuntu? I must tell you this story. Again, go and Google it. Starbucks, one of the biggest companies in the world, just opened in Johannesburg a month ago.
The Chief Executive of Starbucks, a guy called Howard Schultz came into that to open, the guy who started Starbucks came himself to Johannesburg to open the shops, two outlets. He went back to America and what they have in America is a very good tradition where they ask people who’ve achieved much in their lives to do commencement addresses. What that means is at the end of the university year, you might have seen the pictures of the American students throwing their hats in the air.
As they get capped, they have somebody who gives a 15 to 20-minute commencement address and he gave a commencement address at the biggest university in the world, it’s the University of Arizona in Phoenix. His whole talk was about South Africa and about Ubuntu and he said, “This is what the world needs, is the ability to understand as Desmond Tutu told us, as Madiba told us, that we are who we are because of the others around us”. It is something we have engrained in our society that we’ve had this stirring through people with ulterior motives which has taken us off-track. We can get back on track. Please, if there’s one thing you do in the next few days, go and Google it, Starbucks commencement address, Howard Schultz and watch that. It’s only 12 minutes.
We have it on BizNews as well, we have the whole transcript on BizNews, so you can see that and there you have, in the middle of America with only Americans around, this man talking about this country. I walk every day, but not every day, I go into London probably two days a week. I live just outside of London. If you go and do interviews and meet with people and I walk over the bridge at Waterloo and as I walk up the steps, on the right-hand side of the south bank towards the bridge is a huge statue of Nelson Mandela and man, is that inspiring. There’s no statue there of Zuma, never will be, but there you have a global icon, let’s not forget it and we will be rediscovered and we will remember it and we will come out of this period that we’ve been through, “gradually, then suddenly”. Have faith.
Yes, thanks. As a person in the media, do you have any programs that you’ve initiated to mobilise people in local areas or in rural areas about these issues in South Africa?
These issues not, perhaps I can go back a little bit.
But there’s the issue of this inclusive GDP or as you presented it.
I started Moneyweb and I listed it on the stock market and we were very successful. We had a company, there was a radio station called Classic FM that was going bankrupt. They went to pretty much everybody else and nobody was prepared to step in and we stepped in because it was very good for us to have that relationship with Classic FM. Up to that time our radio work which is mass market you’re talking about, was all done with 702, in other words, highly commercial. We built Classic FM into a really strong business, but at the time I was talking to the SABC because while you’re talking about financial literacy, the SABC reaches the whole country and that is where the financial literacy must stop. We started a program in Sesotho on Lesedi FM. Sorry, I jumped forward. I had to give up Classic FM to do the deal with the SABC. Classic refused to allow us.
Imagine, we go in, we fix the place, we’re finally making returns on it and they say, “If you work with anybody else, you can’t work with us”. So we then had to give it up. We started on As Clear first of all with Moneyweb’s As Clear program. Our share price took an awful hiding. We lost a lot of money because of that decision but it was a long-term decision. We started a program with Lesedi. We tried to start one with Nkosi. The Lesedi program went for a few months; there wasn’t financial support for it. We got a sponsor to begin with, there was not sponsorship there and then we started something on Radio 2000 for a few years called the Moneyweb Power Hour and that again was to try and get financial literacy into the marketplace.
After Radio 2000 decided to change itself into a news station, we were then again off air for a little while before we went to SAFM and I had a business show on those various stations for more than 15 years and the target of the show was always financial education. How does the business world work, how does the money world work and we exposed crooks all the time and we supported those in the business community we we’re talking about who were doing the right thing. So, it is probably the closest thing to my heart, given that this was a route that I chose 35 years ago, to go into financial journalism because if you understand the world of money, you can understand some of the issues that we were discussing today and why there is such a high incentive by certain people to get their hands on the Treasury.
Now the SABC has, again, there’s a very good story, the SABC’s board was praising, “That guy’s a nutcase”. I mean, I worked at the SABC, I know, we were on tight budgets all the time. We tried to get every cent to work so hard for us. I went there after the National Party had hands off and before the ANC had hands on and it was an amazing time as a national broadcaster, which I think the SABC is going back into that period right now. It looks like it to me.
There have always been great people there but the direction has been really awful at times, but they had this fellow. The old board were only too happy to keep him going and then something shifted within the ANC because when the new board was appointed, four of the five are outspoken anti-Zuma/anti-Zupta people and what’s the consequence? Hlaudi’s got his marching orders. Look for the messages in the wind and you will get excited about this country’s future again. I have three minutes, so that’s one more question.
Do you think that Zuma will still be president by the end of the year?
The weight of evidence is overwhelming. South African civil society is pulling together. They have been duped. We have been duped for years by a very sophisticated fake news campaign and the dark arts of media controlled by Bell Pottinger. The scales have been removed from our eyes and increasingly, as the scales get removed more and more from our eyes, increasingly, a pressure, which is already irresistible, will build. The Guptas got on a plane on the 4th of June to go to Saharanpur. They did this last year in April. The Guptas know something about what they’ve done and now that it’s being exposed day after day all of their cohorts are just as nervous, wouldn’t you be? So, will Zuma be the President at the end of the year? I think South Africa’s better than that. Thank you everybody.