Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe on Monday distanced himself and his business interests from the government's proposed independent power producers' contract. Motsepe has two brothers-in-law in the cabinet: President Cyril Ramaphosa and energy minister Jeff Radebe.
He told a Sandton news briefing that there was no favouritism in the renewable energy project bids and admonished South Africans for thinking of irregularities when a black businessperson became rich. It was unclear which detractors he was referring to. EFF leader Julius Malema has previously taken swipes at Motsepe.
To the bemusement of social media, Motsepe's news conference included a reference to how he grew up with money due to his father Augustine's business savvy - and how Motsepe senior already drove a Jaguar in 1973. The Motsepes were one of the few black families to enjoy wealth under apartheid. The elder Motsepe was a schoolteacher who opened a spaza shop catering to mine workers.
Motsepe junior is a former lawyer who became the founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, which has interests in gold, ferrous metals, base metals, and platinum, as well as African Rainbow Energy and Power which is headed by former Eskom CEO Brian Dames. In December, BusinessLIVE reported on speculation that he wanted to buy Eskom’s home-loans division and that this could be a move to help develop his financial services business. The entrepreneur, who made the bulk of his $2.
1bn fortune from mining, is planning to start a digital-only bank, known as Tyme, by the end of the first quarter of 2019.