Ramphele fights claim she’s worth R500m

Johannesburg - Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele maintains that her wealth is ten times less than what Forbes magazine estimated to be R500m.

While Ramphele said her net worth was R55 million, several media reports over the last three years painted a different picture.

Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Ramphele disclosed her assets this week.

But in 2011 Forbes listed her as one of Africa’s nine richest women. The two-year old article has now prompted her aides to question the international magazine’s list of Africa’s wealthiest women.

The magazine estimated her wealth to be $50m.

By today’s exchange rates, and without adjusting for inflation, that would be at least R500m, putting her in the company of Angolan tycoon Isabel dos Santos, and South Africans like Bridgette Radebe and Wendy Appelbaum.

This week AgangSA spokesman Thabo Leshilo could not explain why the discrepancy wasn’t challenged by Ramphele two years ago when it was first published, saying he had tried without success to understand how Forbes reached its calculation of her wealth.

Forbes Africa editor Chris Bishop said the magazine stood by its story, adding that the American team which published the 2011 list was about 100-people strong including many highly-trained economists.

“They tend to err on the side of caution with all these guys. The stuff we publish is from scientific research,” he said.

“If you have documentary proof, they’re willing to do a recount. But she never contacted us to dispute.”

“She’d have to ask and I could filter it through to the Americans.”

According to Forbes, the former managing director of the World Bank headed Circle Capital Ventures, a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) private equity firm which reportedly experienced returns of R1.6 billion over an eight-year period from an initial R100m investment.

The former medical doctor and Black Consciousness activist also served on the boards of Anglo-American, Goldfields, Remgro and Mediclinic, where she reportedly benefited from a R30m deal.

Ramphele also served on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

According to another report, she earned R3.8m in 2011 just for her directorships and was awarded R1.6m in shares from two of the companies.

But the income from her directorships was meant to come to an end when she embarked on her political career earlier this year, although Leshilo confirmed to The Sunday Independent that she did not serve on the boards of smaller, unlisted companies.

Leshilo said Ramphele and Agang did not recognise any other valuations of her wealth and assets, but would not be drawn on why she had not disputed Forbes’s figure before.

He said the party’s head of campaign, Nkosinathi Solomon, had requested Agang’s American strategy consultants help it “make sense of the basis of their unexplained valuation”.

He said this was after he had personally tried, without success, to get an answer from the author of the Forbes story.