Weekly Xposé Team
Save South Africa is believed to be working alongside powerful anti-Zuma business lobby and civil groups, to destabilise President Jacob Zuma and build support for his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December. Martin Kingston, of global financial powerhouse Rothschild, is believed to be a chief funder of, and advisor to, the Save South Africa campaign. Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Ramaphosa are allegedly drawing in significant funding from key business leaders for this campaign which masquerades as an anti-corruption drive, yet has revealed itself as a singular anti-Zuma project.
The plan is aimed at destabilising Zuma and derail plans to install his anointed successor at the ANC’s December conference. Outgoing African Union chairwoman Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is one of the front runners to succeed Zuma and who has already been publicly endorsed by the ANC Womens’ League (ANCWL), is believed to also be enjoying the support of Zuma.
While Kingston has ties to Anglo-Gold Ashanti board chairman and Save South Africa’s front-man Sipho Pityana, it is believed that his support was sought by Manuel, who is a close friend and business associate of Kingston. Kingston was appointed as a deputy director at Rothschild in 2007. Manuel joined Rothschild as an advisor and Director in October 2016. Kingston was among guests at Manuel’s wedding to Absa CEO, Maria Ramos, at Johann Rupert’s farm in Cape Town in 2008.
Manuel, who was last week appointed Old Mutual emerging markets chairman, is said to be playing an instrumental role in the Save South Africa campaign although there has been a deliberate decision to downplay his involvement. “Trevor was originally going to head up the Save SA campaign, but there was concern, mostly because of his proximity to white capital.
“There was also a decision taken that we need an African face for credibility but ‘Trevor is calling the shots,” a Save South Africa insider told Weekly Xposé . “We were also told that funding is there. Money is not the issue. Right now the concern is that Pityana is not galvinising much support. He was not our first choice, he was only third on the list,” said the insider.
A few weeks ago, Weekly Xposé revealed plans by Save SA to register as a political party if Ramaphosa was not elected to take over from Zuma as leader of the ANC at the ruling party’s conference in December. Kingston was one of over forty CEO’s from leading South African corporations and financial institutions present at a Save South Africa event in Pretoria on 2 November 2016. These included Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa and wife of Manuel – who has apologised for Absa’s involvement in large-scale bank collusion and price fixing in a recent matter referred to the Competition Tribunal by the Competition Commission, but has yet to account for Absa’s culpability in terms of apartheid-era corruption which was exposed in the CIEX report.
Kingston is a well-known fundraising and empowerment deal specialist for major institutions including Transnet, Anglo American and Exxaro. Yet during his tenure at Deutsche Bank, there were accusations of tender irregularity and an Old Mutual empowerment deal ended with much controversy after it was argued that the deal directly benefited his wife, accomplished business person Pulane Kingston, the daughter of former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and former ANC treasurer general Mendi Msimang.
Kingston, however, has continued to rise within the financial sphere and joined Rothschild in 2007, a move that was widely supported, and with little speculation. Media has largely shied away from reporting on Rothschild’s enormous sphere of influence or transgressions in the South African and global business and economic landscape.
This could be because Rothschild, in South Africa, operated historically, in partnership, with black-owned Kagiso Tiso Holdings, from 1996 to 2011, when it bought back its 49% stake held by Kagiso Tiso, a key ally and business partner of Rothschild in which business mogul Johann Rupert company Remgro has a 34.9% stake. Remgro also has shares in various other media groups including Etv, Caxton CTP Limited and YFM. In response to questions sent to him by Weekly Xposé, Kingstone vehemently denied any involvement in the Save SA campaign.
Manuel was his arrogant self, telling Weekly Xposé, “I’m afraid you will have to ask Thapelo Kunene because I don’t respond to fake news”. Ramapahosa did not respond to questions sent to him, however he has previously labelled Weekly Xposé fake news. In its response to questions sent to Gordhan, Treasury said no funds were allocated from Treasury “for any non-governmental campaigns and political campaigns”.
“National Treasury is a government institution and cannot make pronouncement of political campaigns. It can also not be held responsible for participation of its staff as individuals on societal matters as citizens of the country,” it said in an email to Weekly Xposé.