An open letter to Johann Rupert
9 April 2020
Dear Mr. Rupert,
In the midst of the damaging lockdown our country is enduring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought I would take time to write to you.
After the global pandemic reached our beautiful shores early last month, you were amongst the first businesspeople to donate millions into an initiative aimed at assisting and uplifting small businesses affected by the virus.
Like most rational people in South Africa, I saw your generosity as a courageous and patriotic act that is testament to your affection for this country.
The role you have played in the midst of this pandemic, is a reminder that when our nation goes through tribulations – there are always personalities who rise through to national heroism. You are amongst those personalities.
You could have spent your R1 billion on personal consumption – and as a staunch believer in individual liberty I believe you have a right to that. But instead of personal consumption, you chose to save businesses and jobs. That to me, is real patriotism.
As you well know, when COVID-19 arrived in South Africa, the country was already in a recession – after the economy contracted in the third and fourth quarter of 2019.
You’ll probably agree with me that the recession was man-made by – to be specific – the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC).
State corruption and hostility to business, combined with bad policy in general had already caught up with us by the end of 2019.
We are now in a painful crisis that is leaving millions of South Africans jobless and hopeless.
I see this virus as a test on our sense of resolve in times of socioeconomic crises.
On numerous occasions, I have been fortunate to hear you comment on the socioeconomic ills of our nation.
I have always agreed with your insights – and found them so invaluable that I wish every South African could hear them.
Your daring to express your views in a country where those who believe in big, controlling government dominate the discourse, deserves praises.
These people, who strongly believe in government interfering in our lives, are in the media, politics, academia and NGOs. They tend to muzzle anybody who disagrees with them.
According to them, if you are white and believe in the ideas of limited government and the sanctity of the family unit – you are racist.
If you are black like me, and believe in similar ideas, you are labelled a sell-out serving white masters, and someone who lacks understanding of the history of South Africa. Insults are tossed your way. I know that because I experience it often.
You have been unfairly labelled a “racist” many times. I feel sorry that you have gone through that. Remain firm and unwavering in your convictions. You are an inspiration to us all on the African continent.
I’m sure you and I agree that human beings are not the same – they can’t think the same way – and it’d be silly of us to expect them to think in a similar way.
Hence, it is ridiculous for these pro big-government people to expect all black people to be socialists and communists.
South Africa is at a critical crossroads; there was never a time when diversity of views on how we should build a prosperous nation was more needed since 1994.
The awful state of affairs requires a different approach from what has been practiced in public policy over the past fifteen years.
You and I are part of a minority that has acknowledged the harm caused by government’s interventions in the economy and the danger politicians pose to individual liberty.
A man of your stature inspires us to march forward in the advancement of human freedom.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express gratitude for the outstanding and wonderful work you have done and continue to do in projects advancing private property rights in South Africa, especially in black communities.
I would suggest rewording this. Over twenty years after apartheid was supposed to have ended, the majority of black South Africans still do not own property and remain tenants of the government. They live on government-controlled land with no personal responsibility to it. This is a shameful situation that needs to be reversed urgently.
Your collaboration with organisations whose missions include reversing this shameful legacy of apartheid – and restore people’s dignity must be applauded. You have not only invested money in advancing property rights, but also your time.
I have argued, repeatedly, that if the ANC government is serious about land reform – then they must give all superfluous land the state owns to the poor. The government’s role in our society, is to create an environment conducive to vibrant business activity that will create jobs for the unemployed.
Johann, businessmen and women like you are patriots. You help build this economy – employ people – and contribute to the development of our society.
You are a star. Your contribution, along with those of other businesspeople in South Africa is greatly appreciated.
We thank you.
Phumlani M. Majozi
Phumlani M. Majozi is a politics and global affairs analyst, senior fellow at AfricanLiberty.org, radio talk show host and non-executive at Free Market Foundation South Africa. Views expressed here are his own. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.