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‘I will not do business in South Africa again, if…’

Words of international CEO rings true in Ramatlhodi revelation.

Which (honest) local or foreign investor would consider investing in South Africa after reading amaBhungane’s expose of how international mining giant Glencore was allegedly swindled out of a multi-billion rand coal mine by the president and his friends?

It seems as if the evidence of state capture is becoming more apparent and now involves the bullying and possible defrauding of one of the world’s largest mining companies.

It would be telling to hear Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg’s version of events. He has a reputation for being as hard as nails around the negotiation table. He has also done various deals in many developing nations over the years, which, in theory at least, would have put him in good stead to negotiate about a local coal mine that he didn’t want to sell.

But unfortunately, he is not talking… yet.

It is within this context that the allegation by former mineral resource minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that Eskom duo Brian Molefe and Ben Ngubane tried to bully him into suspending Glencore’s mining licenses to force the payment of a R2 billion penalty to Eskom, is so telling.

It connects many of the dots of events that unfolded over the last few years, and answers some of the questions posed in the Public Protector’s controversial state capture report.

Although Ngubane has denied the allegations in the strongest possible terms, it is clear that the longer the president delays an independent and well-resourced commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations, the more likely these allegations would be proven to be correct.

But don’t hold your breath…

These events and allegations – true or not – continue to accelerate the evaporation of South Africa as an investment destination.

Which investor would pursue an investment when there are very plausible allegations that the president, some of his cabinet ministers and executives of state-owned companies conspire against established international companies?

An interesting hike 

These developments reminded me of a very strange event that took place during a hike along the picturesque coastline between Nature’s Valley and Keurbooms Strand in the Western Cape.

It happened a few years ago during the festive season. As we were about to start the popular trail, I recognised the CEO of an international mining company with large operating subsidiaries in South Africa, also getting ready to set off on the same journey.

Our parties started together and during the hike we spoke at length about various developments and challenges that arise when doing business in the country. 

He was extremely negative about the operating environment and the political uncertainty. However, he made one statement which I can remember clearly. It was related to ongoing negotiations between one of his big, local operating subsidiaries and a prominent state-owned enterprise (guess which one). He said: “If the government pulls the plug, I will write an editorial and have it published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The headline will read: ‘Do not invest in South Africa.’ …  I am serious. I will never do business in South Africa again.”

Luckily, it wasn’t uttered by Ivan Glasenberg.

Listen to the podcast: The facts Ramathlodi is presenting are ‘well established’


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There are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies; there are only permanent interests.

If said CEO had the opportunity to make a boot full in SA (and as an accidental by-product, perhaps something for the shareholders too) with minimal risk and even less effort, I suspect they’d find it in their heart to forgive us our past transgressions and give SA one last chance; graciously accepting the invitation allowing them to align his or her snout to the never-ending trough…

A bully with a bloody nose remains a bully

“after acknowledging that everything was off the record”…if it was off the record why are you publishing it then?

I do not reveal his/her identity.

I see book during Christmas.

,,,,because it is ”on the record” now….no names, no packdrill!

Maybe Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg should go ahead and publish his threat to reveal all in the Wall Street Journal. It may just be the tipping point to get rid of Zuma if other important investors sit up and listen to Ivan Glasenberg’s revelations.

You hoping that this with oust JZ? The guy is like Mugabe; so what if the country suffers; the country still needs me.

You should perhaps re-read the article for comprehension.
The CEO who made the WSJ threat was not identified, but it was specifically and expressly stated that it was NOT Ivan Glasenberg

NB – to the farts out there who believe that companies like glencore anglo bhp get mining rights legitimately – think again – they are also involved in various forms of state capture across this continent using dummy corporations to bribe politicians ensuring mining rights in their favour. go figure ! I am 10 000 percent against the guptas and other forms of corruption – but the guptas are just doing what the white European industrialists having being doing in this country and continent for decades – buying and owning politicians and african presidents. nothing new – welcome to africa – we open for business.

True what you are saying. In the USA they lobby politicians openly. However, this practice must stop as the middlemen are creaming it; which are overheads that could be use productively elsewhere.

Interesting allegation, Bobby. You begin your comment with name calling (labelling those with whom you disagree anal gaseous emissions). However, in addition to your ad hominum, you make some extraordinary claims. Now extraordinary claims require at least a modicum of evidence. My question is thus: what reasonable articulate suspicion or shred of evidence do you have that Anglo American Corporation or BHP Billiton (both UK listed) bribe politicians using dummy corporations?

These two companies listed in the UK are subject to the UK Bribery act of 2010 (note an act not a law). Having been involved in corporate governance (albeit unwillingly) in one of these companies for period and currently a large shareholder in the other, I can assure you that that is not that case and I challenge you to back up your baseless assertion with evidence.

The ball is in your court. Tick tock.

Dream on Bobby, dishonesty can be found all over…difference is in 1st world countries they use a mug and scoop some cream…in 3rd world countries they guzzle and pour out the whole bucket?

A CEO of an SOE bullies a Cabinet Minister whose portfolio is not directly related to the SEO. Which of my faculties I need to suspend to believe this?

These are acts of treason, not merely corruption. When actions damage a country such that investors are chased away, jobs are affected and the tax base eroded then treason has been committed. Zuma, Guptas and all of the gang need to be appropriately charged.

I wish this mining ceo and other big business leaders would shout out loud about Zupta and his gang of thieves robbing and blackmailing business and ALL South Africans.
They need to grow a spine and stop worrying about short term benefits to their companies, because the way it is going there aint gonna be an economy to worry about.
It does not help having a quiet chat in the bush somewhere to Ryk who is already a convert to the facts.
JZ does’nt fight fair, so kick him while he is dropping Boom Boom !
The Anc brought the apartheid regime to it’s knees by organising boycotts on South Africa- not as MK likes to tell how they won the war

That CEO “may never do business in SA again” but do you honestly think that Zuma and his cohorts give a toss? Zuma cares less about his legacy or what people think of him than any gang leader on the
Cape flats cares about selling drugs to your kids. He is in it for himself and couldn’t be bothered about his “legacy”. This is the type of president which we have. The question who put him there and why?

Wonderfully said by both Phil and Bobby23.

Business as usually.

It is all become clear. Molefe’s drive to fight ‘White monopoly Capital’ is probably due to Glencore (and possibly others) not accepted being bullied by him. Molefe like power (and money) and it is seemingly a problem if others do not want to submit to him.

Quick response to Richardthe Great

Ramathlodi – He failed to mention that he is a shareholder in an Atlasa Resources which is the BEE partner of Amplats. Its called conflict of interest especially when you were the sitting minister of mining. (he shareholding is estimated to about 20 bar). Amplats also failed to declare this – That’s corporate governance for u.

Smell the coffee buddy

That does not answer my question. Ramathlodi does not work for Anglo American Corporation, BHP Billiton nor Anglo Platinum. I agree about the conflict of interest but BEE partners are foisted on mining companies by BEE which is itself corrupt.

I repeat my question: What reasonable articulate suspicion or shred of evidence do you have that Anglo American Corporation or BHP Billiton (both UK listed) bribe politicians using dummy corporations?

@Richardthe Great –


Do you then emphatically and categorically deny that AAC & BHPB & AP have NEVER used dummy corporations?

If your answer is yes, where do YOU get your information from? I doubt if you are a director (CEO / MD) of all three, thus you cannot dispute (it looks that way) Bobby’s allegations?


Except if doesn’t work that way. Bobby23 made the statement that Anglo BHP Glencore are involved in state capture, as such the onus of proof relies on him to prove his statements and not on other parties to prove that anglo/bhp didn’t do it.

Innocent until proven guilty which forms the bases of the legal system.

I also like to point out Richard asked Where is the proof that Anglo Bribed (1) politicians using dummy corporations (2).

You ask him to deny part 2 which is not even illegal instead of denying part 1 the illegal act (bribing).

There can be lots of reasons for dummy corporations such as diversifying risk. For example a company like apple might keep its patents and stuff in a dummy company which then license it to companies within the group.

It is only when those dummy corporation are used for illegal activities does it become an issue, but then the issue is the illegal act and not the dummy corporation. In that way the dummy corporation is used as a tool to attempt to hide the illegal act, that doesn’t make dummy corporations bad any more than cars are bad just because bank robbers use then as getaway vehicles.

Don’t be ridiculous Unigma. No, I am not a director of any of the three entities mentioned not have I ever been. This is not relevant.

I cannot comment on dummy corporations aside from the fact that these are used as a front to conceal the true owner. I don’t know of any cases where the above mentioned mining companies have used these, especially for bribery purposes.

AA PLC and BHP Billiton routinely set up shop in a foreign nation e.g. for exploration purposes. They register a legal entity which is capitalised by the parent company and full accounting records are kept as is demanded by UK statutes.

I don’t think you realise the consequence for an employee of a UK listed company that engages in bribery (gives/ accepts bribes). this is a criminal offence and if convicted they get jail time.

I work for a large UK listed multinational. A while ago we were setting up a subsidiary in India and the price of EU imported equipment went from one Hollywood mansion to two owing to some government ‘facilitation’ charges. We were told in no uncertain terms to GET OUT and don’t look back. Walk away.

You have committed a logical fallacy. This is argumentum ad ignorantiam. You are making claims of wrong doing and as such the onus is on you to supply evidence not for me to prove a negative which is not possible anyway.

I repeat my question: What reasonable articulate suspicion or shred of evidence do you have that Anglo American Corporation or BHP Billiton (both UK listed) bribe politicians using dummy corporations?

Just remember that Glencore was party to the deal where the strategic oi reserves were bought at the bottom of the oil market.

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