Johann Rupert has been cast as the poster boy of “white monopoly capital” by pro-Gupta voices. But the Remgro chairman, whose listed equity holdings of R3.18bn put him 22nd on the latest Sunday Times Rich List, scoffs at the idea that he wields monopolistic power. “I’ve tried all my life to get a monopoly but I’ve never succeeded,” he says. “I’ve always fought against people much bigger, from Rand Merchant Bank when we were the smallest, until the 1990s when I was still in tobacco and Philip Morris was a multiple of our size. And now Louis Vuitton is bigger than us globally, so I don’t know where this monopoly comes from. I guess it suits the narrative.” Rupert is less amused by more insidious “alternative facts” about him that have been circulated in what he sees as a concerted smear campaign by the UK PR group Bell Pottinger, who used to work for him. (He ditched them after they signed up with the Guptas.)

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