Rob Hersov: Battered but unbowed after that ‘BNC’ speech which Zondo et al proves was on the money

In September last year, global entrepreneur Rob Hersov rocked South Africa with a hard hitting speech at the BizNews Conference – accusing Corporate SA of being complicit in ANC criminality and incompetence. In this follow-up, Hersov says despite the flack he has taken, he stands by every word in that presentation. But he says there are some bright lights on the horizon as the country heads towards an ANC-free government in 2024, naming Gayton McKenzie, Herman Mashaba and Chris Pappas among the rising stars. – Alec Hogg

Rob Hersov on being one of the the first to call the ANC a criminal syndicate and the consequences

I had a lot of unpleasant situations. A number of people don’t want to talk to me in the business community because I called them cowards in collusion with the government, which they are. And, you know, I had a few threats, but the interesting thing is, a number of members of the ANC have reached out to me and have engaged me to try to find out what my grievances are. And I really believe there are members of the Cabinet today who would walk out of the ANC, would leave the ANC. There are not many of them but the good ones would leave the ANC if there was some way they could go and if they could afford to leave. I think it’s got that bad at the ANC level. You know, Cyril Circus – if you look around the cabinet, let’s try and use the letter C: clowns, communists, cadres, colluders, criminals. They’re all there and they are one or two decent people, you know? You know, Enoch Godongwana, the finance minister. I think Naledi Pandor is pretty good. They should stand up and walk out. They should say, you know, we were somewhat aware of what Zondo has reported. We’re now aware of how bad it is and we will leave the ANC as a result. You know, walk across the floor, join ActionSA, or someone else, they should do it and now’s the time. And Cyril is guilty. You know how he presided over all of this? How can he pretend he’s a reformer? I don’t see it. 

On ANC veteran Omry Makgoale’s interview on SABC

He said it’s about bribery guarantees, about bribery and corruption. He is an extraordinary man. I mean, his honesty, his bravery, his wisdom, he’s the kind of member of the ANC that ought to stand up and say, I don’t think the ANC deserves to win the national election and I’m going to vote for ActionSA or whomever. I think he’s the kind of person that should be doing it. And I really applaud him for his honesty and his courage. What a human being. I hope everybody listens to that interview. Extraordinary man. 

On what’s keeping good people in the ANC

It’s a bribery structure. You know, they’ve all been bribed in some way with jobs that most don’t deserve. If you look at the cadre deployment, the DA came out with an incredible video over the last two weeks describing how the economy, standards of living have been destroyed through cadre deployment which Cyril has been responsible for. Good people who got up in the morning to fix things in the municipality, clean things were just getting a good job done, have been replaced with incompetent people who’ve done nothing. And our municipalities are falling apart except in DA and ActionSA run areas, it’s criminal what has happened. So, you would think at this point Patrice Motsepe, despite being related to Cyril, would put his hands in the air and say, enough’s enough, I’m not going to vote ANC. I think he should do that, but will he, I wonder?  And take Naledi Pandor, for example. I don’t know her. I haven’t met her, but I know her brother, Kgosi Matthews, he’s a hell of a good guy. And he’s ANC aristocracy and has been all his life. He and I’ve banged heads for many, many years, but remained friends and courteous and accepted. We disagree with each other. He was put in place as the head of PRASA. To turn PRASA around. And they pushed him out because he uncovered out-of-control corruption. Now. He has been abused by the ANC, kicked out of PRASA. He even sued them. Courts ruled in his favor and they still wouldn’t let him back into PRASA. And this is a man of integrity who will not ever again vote for the ANC. But his sister, Naledi Pandor, must have conversations at home. And I would think she must be in two minds over whether she should still be there, because it’s getting to very much the last minute on whether you want to be on the right or the wrong side of history. And I think that a number of senior ANC people have a last chance to walk out of the ANC.

On Cyril’s statement about trying to change things from within

Cyril is a 100% part of the problem. 100% –  everyone knows that he pretends to be a reformer. He managed to get a whole lot of business people to back him last time round with the threat of the right group, you know, and they were conned into backing him. They’re not going to do that again. Most of them are not going to back him this time. They don’t believe in that anymore. It’s time. The ANC is past its sell by date and needs to disappear. It needs to disappear and the way for that to happen is for the good people, if some do exist, like Omri and Katlego and Kgosi and others, to stand up and say I’m not part of it anymore. I’m not part of this organisation. Its brand is destroyed. The criminals have taken over and it’s posted a sell by date. It doesn’t deserve another term in office. And think about the ANC, another term in office come 2024. We’re finished. This country is finished. A game of economy will collapse. 

On Gayton Mckenzie and the Patriotic Alliance

The public needs to watch this space. Gayton McKenzie is a revelation. I was born wealthy and given every opportunity in the world and I took as much of that opportunity as possible. I went to university, studied business, met extraordinary people, went to Harvard Business School, Goldman Sachs, etc.. Gayton came from the most different planet you could imagine in the universe to me, and he and I have ended up at the same conclusion. That unlocking human ingenuity is the only way forward. You’ve got to get rid of ridiculous regulations, red tape, corruption, crime, and allow people to pursue their dreams, to take opportunities where they see them, and to unlock human potential. And he is a Judeo-Christian conservative libertarian like me. He doesn’t see colour, nor do I. He sees character. He sees opportunity. And how he came to the same conclusion as me from a different world is a revelation . He went to his team and he  said, you know, what am I lacking to go for higher office? And his team said, You lack political operating experience.

You don’t have runs on the board as a politician. And he said, “Find me the worst place in South Africa. And they came back and said, the central corridor is basically the N1 and poverty, and the only main town, Beaufort West, is decrepit and industry is left falling apart. I drove up there and had a look and it’s terrible. It’s a shocker. McKenzie said in the first hundred days of being mayor he was unopposed because no one wanted to run for that position. He’s the mayor of the whole central crew. He said in the first hundred days I will do the following things. And he listed a number of things that no other party had been able to do in the central Karoo or frankly, the ANC, anywhere else in South Africa, build 100 toilets in homes that have never had them and had been promised them. He’s done that already. He hasn’t had his hundred days. Repair the municipal swimming pool in Beaufort West so children can swim again. He’s doing it. It’ll be done shortly. And there’s a list of things that he promised to do. And I think he’s 100 days in mid-July. He’s going to have them all done. 

On Gayton Mckenzie’s supposed shady history with the ANC and what changed his mind

He didn’t change his mind. He was always going to be part of the good guys, but he was not given the respect he deserved. People saw the Patriotic Alliance as less than 1%, you know, not an important factor in the future. They didn’t see what he saw and so in the municipalities, he joined the ANC in various municipalities. And I messaged him and said: What the hell are you doing? Because I kind of knew that his vision for South Africa is very much our vision, economic growth, jobs, removing red tape and, character based, merit based. And I couldn’t believe it. And he just said, watch this space. Give me ten days. Ten days later, 90% of the municipalities crossed the floor, joined the DA, and all he wanted to do was let the DA and ActionSA and Inkatha know that he was for real and they had to take him seriously and give him parts of what he wanted. So he’s now in most of the main municipalities in coalitions. He’s working with the good guys and he’s, I think, in two municipalities with the ANC keeping an eye on them and seeing how they break in steel. So he’s definitely on the side of the good. No question. Watch that space. He’s very impressive.

On whether he’s investing in the possible outcome that 2024 will see the end of the ANC

 It’s binary. If the ANC stays, we’re doomed and our investments will be written off. And if they’re removed, we’ll have economic growth through the roof. I mean, if the coalition can move quickly, deregulate, you know, identify all the cadres and remove them. Boot them out, take the criminals, of which there are many, starting in the cabinet, to prison, you know, try and get money back from the Zumas and the Guptas stolen from this country, it will take off like a rocket, you know, we will have 5% to 10% economic growth for many, many years and international capital will pour in. So it’s binary. I mean it’s a bet that, you know, a coalition will come in, will make a difference and if the country takes off like a rocket, a lot of young people who’ve been trained and are overseas will return. 

On his investment in Cape Town airport and if he is moving ahead on it

Very much. I mean, that’s a you know, it’s an important hub for the Cape and for South Africa. It’s a hub. We want to be able to link up the ports. We want to link up rail. And, you know, Cape Town can only really expand to the north anyway because with the sea surrounding us from all other sides, it’s a massive development. And it’s going to take maybe longer than my life to build to develop that … It’s probably one of the biggest developments in South Africa, I think, over time.  

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