Ramphele’s R55 million gamble could backfire

FILE PICTURE: Activist and academic Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: Michel Bega

FILE PICTURE: Activist and academic Mamphela Ramphele. Picture: Michel Bega

Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele’s disclosure of her net worth could either be a move in the right direction, or hurt the party’s attempt to garner votes.

Political analysts seem divided over Ramphele’s decision to reveal to reporters yesterday that she was worth R55 436 063 as of June 27 this year.

“I think she did this to attract attention to her party and herself,” analyst Steven Friedman said.

He said it was “interesting” that Ramphele chose to make the amount public while she was trying to appeal to poorer South Africans. “Therefore disclosing R55 million was not a good idea.”

There would be some of those in the political arena who would call this a publicity stunt, said Friedman. “I am not convinced that most South Africans would want to vote for these people.”

Prince Mashele, of the Centre for Politics and Research, said while Ramphele tried to downplay the idea that she was a “very rich woman”, to the poor, R55 million was a large amount of money.

“Not just for the poor, but also for the middle class. Anyone who thinks that someone worth R55 million is not rich, must be out of their minds.”

Breaking down the figure, Ramphele said her shares with with Anglo American, Gold Fields, Sibanye Gold and the PTI Select Managers Fund amounted to R1.38 million, reported the SA Press Association. Her residence in Camps Bay, Cape Town, was valued at R10 million, R1.1 million was in retirement annuity and R1.57 million in a provident fund. Ramphele’s family trust stood at R30 million and her investment trust at R10.9 million. She said her income for the tax year ending February 28, 2013, was R346 000.

Mashele said Ramphele was aware of the negativity attached to wealthy politicians and therefore wanted to project herself.

“I doubt people would be persuaded by her move. Maybe the middle class … Ramphele was being ‘calculated’ and a ‘politician’, trying to diminish the image of her opposition,” said Mashele.

Ramphele had also called on President Jacob Zuma to disclose his personal finances. ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu wouldn’t entertain the idea, commenting “as it was not an important matter”. “The important matter is for us to deal with the betterment of our people’s lives.”

Analyst Ralph Mathekga said Ramphele had made a bold move. “What she did was admirable as she was also trying to deal with the perception of who Agang was being funded by,” he said. “Just putting it out there kills debate or criticism against her.”

Professor Susan Booysen agreed that Ramphele had dispelled ideas that there was “anything sinister” behind the party’s funding. “It would be the only party without business funding prepared to open their books. She, in all probability, hasn’t managed to get funds from business and if you haven’t got much to reveal there’s nothing to lose.”


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