EXCLUSIVE: How Rupert threatened to collapse SA economy if Zuma fired Gordhan


Karabo Ngoepe

Kill Zuma by any means necessary : book by Gayton McKenzie

JOHANNESBURG – Billionaire Johann Rupert threatened to collapse SA economy if he removed Pravin Gordhan from his post of Finance Minister.

This is revealed by author Gayton McKenzie in his explosive book Kill Zuma-By any means necessary. In one of the chapters, the Remgro board chair exercises his influence which he has obtained through the family businesses and summons police minister Fikile Mbalula who was then minister of sports and recreation to Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.

While there at a multimillion-rand auction, Rupert told Mbalula to pass on a message to the president: “if he fires Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, I’ll ensure South Africa becomes worse than Zimbabwe.”

“Rupert, first of all, asked Mbalula if it was true that President Zuma was planning to remove Pravin Gordhan as the finance minister in yet another cabinet reshuffle. Mbalula replied that cabinet appointments were strictly the preserve of the president, and he could not say. At the time, there was much speculation and even near certainty that the former CEO of Eskom, Brian Molefe, would be made the finance minister, a move Rupert declared would be totally unacceptable. Rupert seemed to be in a bad mood,” the book reveals.

“I want you to go and tell your president that I looked after Mandela. But if he fires Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, I will destroy this economy. My friends and I will make it look worse than Zimbabwe.”

His words carried weight. The country was just trying to recover from the tanking of the Rand and markets going haywire after Zuma had fired Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Des van Rooyen. The book claims the JSE lost somewhere in the region of R500 billion almost overnight and the rand plummeted to nearly R18 to the dollar.

Zuma reversed his decision and brought back Gordhan and the markets appeared to approve of the move and the Rand slowly started to gain traction.

Mbalula is said to have wanted to interject, but Rupert was not yet done. He wanted to address the issue of White Monopoly Capital and he wanted to be heard.

“I would also appreciate it if you stop talking about this ‘white monopoly capital’ thing. I see even you have been going on about it. There’s no such thing.”

Mbalula hit back: “Look, if you are not white monopoly capital, then I don’t know what you are.”

Rupert played the one card used by many entitled people in society and spoke of how he was contributing to the lives of the poor.

“I’m not the enemy here, Minister. I’m feeding 17 000 schoolkids.” He also mentioned other philanthropic work he and fellow businessmen were engaged in.

Mbalula was however not going to take that lying down. He shook his head.

“That’s the problem: it’s just handouts. Our people are dependent on your generosity.”

The book continues to say a small argument ensued between the two, with Mbalula then asking him: “How do you expect President Zuma to talk to you when you think you can make such threats?”

The threat, however, fell on deaf ears as Zuma fired the pair in a cabinet reshuffle in March this year and appointed Malusi Gigaba to the position of finance minister.

Before the end of their conversation, Mbalula asked Rupert why he never invited him to the Laureus Sports Awards. But nothing could prepare him for the answer that was to come.

“Oh, that. I’ll tell you what, I will invite you next time, on one condition,” he said. Mbalula became inquisitive and wanted to hear the condition.
“Which is?” he asked.

“If you can guarantee the nation that you and the ANC will never change the Springbok emblem,” Rupert is quoted as having said.

The book also gives a brief history of how the Rupert family got to be so arrogant and believe they can dictate to a president who should be appointed to his Cabinet and who shouldn’t reshuffled. McKenzie explains that what the family says, thinks and does matters and has far-reaching effects on South African society.

“They have always valued and even flaunted the fact that they can get the ANC government to do exactly what they want and, in return, have made billions out of the South African state and the economy as a whole,” he writes.

It also gives a glimpse into how the family benefitted from the Apartheid government bailout loans which have never been repaid. The book states that the family received state funding to bail out some of their struggling businesses.

“They’ve never had to repay any of that money, despite the public protector of South Africa raising serious questions about it and financial investigators suggesting that it wouldn’t be that hard to recover these lost billions on behalf of the South African taxpayer.

This family had already benefited handsomely from the state’s policy of economic empowerment, which effectively saw public money invested in their businesses to ensure that they could compete with the more established corporations, especially those with links back to the British empire that had profited through their control of the mining, financial, construction, retail and most other business sectors in South Africa,” the book says

Digital copies are already available on Amazon but hard copies are expected before the end of the month.

Click here to read an excerpt from Killing Zuma