Another week, another Zapiro cartoon depicting a shower-headed Jacob Zuma raping the South African justice system. But what are the alternatives? Where is the credible opposition? More than a few think it may lie in the warm, wealthy hands of Dr Mamphela Ramphele.
Mamphela Ramphele recently launched her political party, interestingly named Agang. No, it was not a name conceived after a rap concert and several rounds of tequila. It means “to build”, in Sotho. Wonkie is certain that Benenson, the campaign strategy firm that supported Obama, and that has now been hired by Ramphele will have a field day coming up with innovative campaign slogans.
Ramphele made the news last week by publicly announcing her net worth to be R55 Million. She then urged President Zuma to declare his financial interests. On the surface, it appeared like a gesture to promote transparency – something that is much needed in the corrupt local political landscape. Those that dug a little deeper may have been quite surprised with what they discovered.
Firstly, Forbes magazine’s 2011 Richest Women in Africa list had Ramphele right up there. Except, their economists calculated her net worth to be about 10 times more: R500 Million. Further, Forbes Africa editor Chris Bishop has made it clear that the figure was not an unfortunate typo.
So what happened in the last two years? Did Mamphela go on a wild spending spree and buy R445 Million worth of boerewors rolls to feed the poor in Africa? Or perhaps there are several blind trusts in some offshore haven holding millions in the name of her adorable puppy? Who knows, and who cares – but so much for declared transparency.
Secondly, Mamphela certainly has an impressive pedigree: anti-apartheid activist; academic; one of the founders of the Black Consciousness Movement; medical doctor; and former Managing Director of the World Bank. All interesting roles, but it does beg the question – how exactly did she make all those millions – even if there were only 55 of them?
It turns out that she was the beneficiary of more than just one or two lucrative BEE deals. Again, nothing wrong with that on the face of it – but hardly appropriate if you’re moaning about the government’s BEE policies, and happily slipping both hands in the same till. The question is not one of legality but one of consistency.
As expected, the ANC replied with some meaningless remarks by Jackson Mthembu and a warm, loving smile from Jacob Zuma.
Wonkie is curious to know what you think about Agang and Mamphela Ramphele. Do you think she stands a chance in next year’s election? Do you trust that she could get the job done, properly? Please take part in our poll below, and be sure to leave your more detailed views in the comments section.
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