South African Millionaire Promotes Good Governance, Wants Zuma Out
One of President Jacob Zuma’s most vocal critics, attorney and politician Mathews Phosa got rich in post-apartheid South Africa, but he insists he did so by his own deals, not through the country’s black economic empowerment policies.
Appointed to investigate complaints of government misconduct, South Africa’s public protector in October reported corruption at the highest levels of government. President Jacob Zuma and his friends were implicated. Zuma denied the claims, CNN reported.
Phosa and Zuma have a lot in common. They both returned to South Africa in 1990 after being in exile to start the negotiation process that transitioned the country from apartheid to democracy, Forbes reported.
After studying law and practicing in South Africa, Phosa went into exile in 1985, receiving political and military training in the former East Germany. He became the regional commander for Umkhonto we Sizwe — the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) — in Mozambique.
Now 62, Phosa’s business dealings take him around the world. He’s a philanthropist and adviser, with several companies doing business in more than 20 countries. He owns stakes in listed companies including Value Group and Bauba Platinum. His business deals range from logistics and technology to food processing, mining, beverages and wealth management.
But politics aren’t far from Phosa’s mind. He said he believes the country is at a political crossroads and Zuma needs to do the right thing and resign.
“There is nobody in this country that has ever diminished or devalued the ANC in this country (more) than President Jacob Zuma,” Phosa said in an eNCA interview in November. “It can’t get worse. The ANC should consider asking him to politely to pack his bag and leave.”
Since taking office in 2009, Zuma has survived in several political scandals, depending on party loyalists to stick with him. But Zuma is facing increasing calls from opposition groups and the public to resign.
After the public protector’s report was released, there was speculation in late November that the ANC would hold a vote of confidence on Zuma.
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said there had been a call for Zuma to consider stepping down, followed by “robust and open debate,” but Zuma got to keep his job.
The fact that there was a debate at all on the topic of whether Zuma should stay or go sent shock waves through the National Executive Committee, the executive arm of the ANC, iAfrica reported:
“The NEC of the ANC always seeks to persuade one another through argument,” Mantashe said. “It does not seek to conclude matters through voting.”
Zuma has never before been confronted by the NEC in this manner, and the sudden surplus of courage among Zuma’s ‘comrades’ may be the most concrete sign yet that mutiny is on the horizon.
Zuma’s attitude show he lacks character, integrity and lacks a sense of shame, Phosa said. He believes peace, unity, and love will be restored in the ruling party once Zuma leaves, Buzz South Africa reported.
“We need leaders with character, with integrity, with a sense of shame… We must still insist that he must step down because he is the elephant in the South African room,” Phosa said.
Phosa talked to Forbes about how he made his money:
“I made my money as a commercial lawyer, by facilitating various international companies to establish their operations in Africa. I advised Huawei in setting up its African operations, and I’ve done so many similar deals over the years. I made my money through my commercial law practice, and invested wisely over the years. I have helped so many communities apply for mining rights, and when they can’t afford to raise the money to explore for the minerals, I help them list it on the stock exchange and raise finance for them and in return I get equity. That’s how I have built wealth over the years, not through BEE or by leveraging on any form of government connection,” he said.
Many South Africans and leading politicians have asked Phosa to run for office, Forbes reported. “At the moment, I’m more focused on my businesses than on anything else,” he said. “I love South Africa with every fiber of my being, and every inch of my soul. If it turns out that I have to serve in office at some point, so be it.”
Earlier in 2016, Phosa won the Award for Excellence in Leadership at the African Achiever Awards in Nigeria — the African version of the Nobel Prize — according to Independent Online.
Phosa was honored for a lifetime of achievement in fighting apartheid, helping to establish democracy and for his selflessness.
Previous recipients include Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union, Malawian President Joyce Banda, Ghana’s late President Atta Mills, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
Phosa dedicated the Lifetime Achievement Award to the memory of Nelson Mandela, and challenged all Africans to live Madiba’s legacy.
His Mathews Phosa Foundation (MPF) is a nonprofit committed to promoting good governance, Forbes reported:
“We have identified an embarrassingly large governance deficit
prevalent in this country, and we want to address that. My
foundation will sponsor initiatives and programs that help to
promote good governance and equip the next generation of
leaders in South Africa to be responsible, because right now,
that’s what South Africa needs more than anything –
responsible leadership,” Phosa said.
Phosa speaks nine languages, according to JacarandaFM. In 1999, he published an anthology of Afrikaans poetry called “Deur die Oog van ‘n Naald” (Through The Eye Of A Needle.)
“There is a way out for the ANC. We must be guided by honesty and integrity,” Phosa said in a Times Live report.