Zuma's economic slogans just code for theft: Rupert

Capture: Richemont chairman slam's ANC's 'radical transformation' plan

14 September 2017 - 07:19 By Bloomberg
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: David Harrison

South Africa's richest man, Johann Rupert, says "radical economic transformation", the policy championed by President Jacob Zuma to reduce the country's racial inequality, is no more than theft.

"Radical economic transformation is just a code word for theft," Rupert said on the sidelines of Richemont's annual general meeting in Geneva yesterday.

"That's what's happening there. They're raiding the state's coffers. And it's public knowledge."

South Africa's former graft ombudsman alleged in a November report that Zuma allowed members of the wealthy Gupta family, who are in business with his son, to influence cabinet appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

A study released in March by a team of academics concluded that Zuma, the Guptas and their allies had orchestrated "a silent coup", securing control over key positions in the state, enabling them to allegedly steal billions of rands.

A trove of leaked e-mails dubbed the "Gupta leaks" have formed the basis for a raft of stories that allege corruption linked to the Guptas and government officials.

Zuma's spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, said he was in a meeting when called for comment.

Bell Pottinger, the UK public relations firm, lost clients over its work for the Gupta family in South Africa and was expelled from the UK's PR trade body last week.

It was slammed for stoking racial tensions by mounting a campaign targeting so-called white monopoly capital, and filed for administration on Tuesday. Its targets included Rupert, who has a net worth of $8.2-billion (about R107-billion).

"They were hired to deflect attention from the public anger against what's happening to the state's finances," said Rupert.

"That was their role."

Bell Pottinger was formerly the public relations company for Richemont, the maker of Cartier jewellery.

"When all those leaks came out, all those e-mails, you can't deny stuff," said Rupert.

"Nobody's ever denied the veracity of the Gupta leaks."