The Top 10 Richest Politicians in South Africa and How Much Money They Have

Since the end of the apartheid regime, South Africa has been churning out powerful politicians who have leveraged their positions in the political realm to build mouth-watering fortunes. Observations have shown that SA politicians don’t only make money from politics; they have been raking in overwhelming fortunes through other ventures such as business. We have seen some politicians joggle both politics and business, while others dropped politics in favor of forging lucrative business careers after making the necessary connections.

These categories of people have accumulated so much wealth from their diverse ventures, earning themselves enviable positions as the richest politicians in South Africa. The list is quite extensive, but for this piece, we have selected the top ten that include well-known politicians like past and present presidents of the country.

A Scrutiny of The Richest Politicians in South Africa

1. Cyril Ramaphosa

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Cyril Ramophosa image source

  • Age: 68
  • Date Of Birth: 17 November 1952
  • Net Worth: $450 million
  • Office: President of South Africa
  • Active in Politics Since: 1982 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business, farming
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Soweto
  • Major Political Offices Held: Secretary-General of the ANC (African National Congress) from 1991 to1997, Vice President of the ANC from 2012 to 2017, Vice President of SA from 2014 to 2018, South African President from 2018 to Date

Sitting comfortably at the top of the list of the richest politicians in South Africa is Cyril Ramaphosa. The 5th president of SA has a whopping $450 million fortune which is more than double what his closest contender, Tokyo Sexwale, has accumulated.

Politics

The name Cyril Ramaphosa has always been popular in the SA political scene as he is one of the pioneer political activists who fought against apartheid in the country. Aided with a degree in law, the Sowetan native held several political posts in the country. He was formerly the African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general before becoming South Africa’s vice president in 2014; a position he held till 2018. On the 18th of December 2017, he became the president of ANC before getting elected as president of SA in 2018.

Business

Away from politics, Ramaphosa is a veritable wheeler-dealer. He is the man behind the establishment of the Shanduka Group. As the founder, Cyril served as its executive chairman for several years. Shanduka Group is a multi-faceted business group that has investments in sectors like energy, resources, banking, real estate, food and beverage, telecoms (SEACOM), insurance, and many more. His business acumen does not end with Shanduka as the richest politician in South Africa also has his fingers in other businesses. He has served as the chairman of both MTN and Bidvest.

Farming

After Cyril visited Uganda in 2014, the Ankole cattle breed caught his attention. He tried to bring the species into SA but was denied permission due to Uganda’s disease control measures which were tagged inadequate. However, Cyril went ahead with his plans through other crafty means. First, he acquired a total of 43 cows from president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. The cows were shipped to Kenya where they were artificially inseminated. Upon germination, the embryos were removed and shipped into SA. On getting to their destination, they transferred the embryos into cows which were placed under observation (quarantine) for a couple of months. By 2017, Cyril already had around 100 Ankole breeding cows reared at his Ntaba Nyoni ranch located in Mpumalanga.

How He Spends His Money

  • Real Estate and Automobiles

A recent count of the number of investments the top richest politician in South Africa has in real estate brought it to a total of 31 properties. It might interest you to know that he is the owner of the Fresnaye mansion located along the Atlantic seaboard in Cape Town – an elite rental that is currently up for grabs at the sum of R175,000 per month.

Also, there is an R30 million plot also located in Cape Town where he is presently putting up a sprawling mansion. No doubt, the South African president splurges around town in only the best automobile brands.

  • Electioneering Campaigns

It recently came to light that Ramaphosa spent a whooping R400 million on his last electioneering campaign which has been tagged ridiculous by many.

  • Philanthropy

In honor of the late South African legend and former president, Nelson Mandela, Cyril made a public declaration on the 24th of May 2018 to be spending R3.6 million annually which is half of his salary on charity. The NMF (Nelson Mandela Foundation) will be in charge of his donations.

2. Tokyo Sexwale

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Tokyo Sexwale image source

  • Age: 68
  • Date Of Birth: 5 March 1953
  • Net Worth: $200 million
  • Office: Former Premier of Gauteng
  • Active in Politics Since: 1994 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Soweto
  • Major Political Offices Held: Premier of Gauteng from 1994 to 1998, Minister of Human Settlements from 2009 to 2013

Mosima Gabriel Sexwale, popularly called Tokyo, takes the number two spot on the list of richest politicians in South Africa. He is one of those South Africans who led the fight against apartheid with the legendary Nelson Mandela and spent over 13 years behind bars for his effort. Tokyo’s net worth was last estimated at an astounding $200 million which was accrued through multiple means.

Politics

Tokyo’s political career started when he was very young. Joining the ANC, he began gaining prominence in the SA political scene. Post-independence in 1994, the Soweto-born politician was named Gauteng’s first premier, a position which he held till 1998. After a long hiatus from politics, Tokyo surfaced in 2007 with his eyes on the presidential seat of the country but his presidential bid failed. In 2013, Jacob Zuma made him Minister of Human Settlements.

Business

The majority of Tokyo Sexwale’s massive fortune was made from business. The second richest politician in South Africa spent his first hiatus from politics wisely, investing in lucrative business deals. It was during that period, precisely in 2003, that he founded Mvelaphanda Group. The company has multiple interests in energy, mining, and real estate. Tokyo serves as the company’s chairperson. It goes without saying that a man with $200 million in net worth lives a lavish life.

How He Spends His Money

  • Real Estate and Automobiles

Johannesburg is littered with mansions owned by the former Minister of Human Settlements. One can be found in Franschhoek, another very close to late Nelson Mandela’s place, and then one in Cape town at the seaside neighborhood of Clifton.

That is not all, there is a game farm located in the North West Province and a private holiday retreat situated on an island off the Mozambique coast. Needless to say, a politician of Tokyo’s ilk will have some exotic automobiles in his fleet, however, specifics are not known to the public.

3. Herman Mashaba

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Herman Mashaba image source

  • Age: 61
  • Date Of Birth: 26 August 1959
  • Net Worth: $100 million
  • Office: Founder/Chairman ActionSA
  • Active in Politics Since: 2016 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Hammanskraal, Transvaal in South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: Mayor of Johannesburg from 2016 to 2019, Founder/Chairman ActionSA from 2020 to date

Herman Mashaba made the number three spot on the list of the richest politicians in South Africa thanks to his net worth of over $100 million. Mashaba’s story is a rag to riches one as he came from an impoverished background where his mum struggled to put food on the table, his brother dropped out of school because of financial constraints, and Mashaba himself never completed his tertiary education. However, he surmounted all his life challenges to emerge as one of SA’s top politicians. His journey to riches started in business and dovetailed into politics.

Business

Herman is distinct from other people on this list in the sense that he first made money in business before joining the South African political terrain. His business empire was launched very early in life, starting with Black Like Me – his first company founded in 1985. Then, Herman wasn’t even buoyant enough to launch a company so he had to leverage a R30,000 loan from close friend Walter Dube. Lephatsi Investments (Pty) Ltd has Herman as its founder and the company has diversified interests in financial services, real estate, bulletproof materials, and insurance brokerage.

Politics

After he made his money from business, Herman joined politics and served as Mayor of Johannesburg – a position that he took up in 2016 and ended in 2019. The politician then moved on to found ActionSA – his own political party in 2020; he is the party’s current chairman. The businessman’s lifestyle is not readily available, thus, we cannot say the number of houses and automobiles he owns.

4. Saki Macozoma

Saki-Macozoma image source

  • Age: 64
  • Date Of Birth: 12 May 1957
  • Net Worth: $60 Million
  • Office: Nil
  • Active in Politics Since: 1994
  • Other Sources of Income: Business
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: ANC Member of Parliament from1994 to 1996

Almost every black South African who grew up during the apartheid era joined the SA liberation movement and Saki Macozoma is not different from his contemporaries. However, his story was not so good as their activities landed him on Robben Island where he spent five futile years. All these did not deter the University of South Africa alum from achieving his life goals and today, he is listed among the richest politicians in South Africa.

As of 2012, he was listed as the 39th richest in South Africa with a net worth of $71 million. However, his fortune took a nosedive in recent times but he has climbed up to $60 million as of the last review. Revenue for the SA politician comes from two major sources discussed below.

Politics

Once he regained his freedom, the Port Elizabeth-born man joined politics working for the ANC. He emerged as a parliament member in 1994. Deciding that ANC has deviated from its main goal of nationalistic drive in favor of economic policies, Macozoma left the political scene in 1996 to try his hands at business.

Business

Upon his exit from parliament, the politician became Transnet’s managing director. From then on, his focus has never wavered from the business world. Saki’s name has been associated with various businesses; he functions as the chairman of Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining (Pty) Limited and has a finger in Safika Resources Limited and Safika Holdings – an international investment company. He is also linked to Ntsimbintle Mining BEE, Andisa Capital, Standard Bank, and many more.

How He Spends His Money

  • Real Estate and Automobiles

It goes without saying that a man with such stupendous wealth would favor the lavish life.  Saki and his family live in one of the most magnificent mansions in all of South Africa although reports have revealed that there are several other high-end dwellings owned by him in the country. The former parliamentary member has also been spotted in a good number of classy vehicles over the years.

5. F. W de Klerk

Richest Politicians in South Africa
F. W de Klerk image source

  • Age: 85
  • Date Of Birth: 18 March 1936
  • Net Worth: $46 Million
  • Office: Former State President of South Africa
  • Active in Politics Since: 1972 to 1997
  • Other Sources of Income: Farming, Real Estate
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Johannesburg, Transvaal, Union of SA
  • Major Political Offices Held: State President of SA from 1989 to 1994, Deputy President of SA from 1994 to 1996

We cannot talk about the richest politicians in South Africa without paying homage to F. W de Klerk, the country’s former president. Frederik Willem de Klerk is a product of one of the wealthiest and most powerful Afrikaner families in SA. Before venturing into politics, he first practiced law for some years. F. W de Klerk went on to accumulate his wealth through multiple means.

Politics

Aided by his influential family, Klerk became part of the National Party, making it to parliament. Before the notorious apartheid regime came to an end, F. W de Klerk became the State President of SA; the position lasted from 1989 till Nelson Mandela ascended the mantle of leadership in 1994.

Under Mandela’s regime, Klerk served as South Africa’s first Vice President from 1994 to 1996. He played a significant role in ending apartheid in SA and his tenor as VP under Mandela was all in a bid to make a smooth and seamless transition from white imperialism to a completely free nation. From 1972 to 1997, Klerk was the substantial leader of the National Party.

Farming

Klerk owes a few digits of his $46 million fortune to farming. His farm, which is situated at the banks of SA’s Wildepaardejacht River, was reported to be up for sale in 2008 for the sum of R35 million. Within the massive land, there is a thatched manor house, 14ha of vineyards, over 3ha of fallow land, and 7ha of fruit and olive orchards.

How He Spends His Money

  • Philanthropy

Being an octogenarian, Klerk is not really into frivolities. The former president spends his fortune on philanthropy, being the man behind the FW de Klerk Foundation. Established in 1999, the foundation is focused on promoting activities in “multi-community” nations and also seeks to nurture the practice of real democracy in South Africa.

6. Jacob Zuma

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Jacob Zuma image source

  • Age: 79
  • Date Of Birth: 12 April 1942
  • Net Worth: $20 Million
  • Office: 4th President of South Africa
  • Active in Politics Since: 1959 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Nkandla, Natal Province
  • Major Political Offices Held: South Africa’s Vice President from 1999 to 2005, President of ANC from 2007 to 2017, and President of SA from 2009 to 2018

In addition to being the most controversial man in the history of SA politics, Jacob Zuma is equally rated as one of the richest politicians in South Africa with over $20 million in net worth. The son of a policeman (father) and a domestic worker (mother) was born in the apartheid era where his mum struggled to cater for her children after her husband’s demise. Losing his dad at the age of five, the young Zuma had to grow up very fast and started taking care of his needs from an early age. He made his money from both politics and business.

Politics

Just like several other young South Africans who were associated with the anti-apartheid movement, Jacob Zuma was arrested and jailed. He subsequently went on exile before returning for the negotiation process of the country’s independence. Subsequently, he served under the Nelson Mandela administration as a MEC (Member of the Executive Council) in KwaZulu-Natal. From 1999 to 2005, he served as SA’s Deputy President.

In 2007, he was sworn in as the president of ANC and he became South Africa’s president in 2009. Despite being in the scheme of things and serving in other capacities for a long period, Zuma was toeing the line of a sit-tight president before he was ousted in 2018.

Business

A substantial chunk of Jacob Zuma’s wealth came from his business investments, including alleged arms dealings with a French arms company that landed him in legal battles. Apart from that, the former South African president had to face a plethora of corruption charges, though none has been proven to date. Even his family members were not spared.

As a man with many wives, Jacob Zuma does not just spend on himself alone as he lavishes money on his harem of wives and is not even averse to doing it with state money. Zuma’s lifestyle is nothing short of luxurious.

All The Ways He Spends His Money

  • Real Estate

Jacob Zuma’s private home which is called The Nkandla Homestead is the last word in luxury. Sitting on a huge expanse of land, the homestead boasts of amenities like an amphitheater, swimming pool, sprawling compound, cattle enclosure, and many more. Though the settlement has been in Zuma’s possession since 2000, he used over R246 million of state money to renovate the place while in the office which became a subject of controversy.

In 2015, he acquired a R330 million mansion that was tagged a retirement home in the Emirates Hills (Dubai); his closest neighbor there was the late president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. He also reportedly owns an apartment in the Burj Khalifa (Dubai) worth R18 million.

  • Automobiles

The ex-president of South Africa is a man that loves luxury cars and he has quite a number. While in office, the ex-president spent 8.6m rand of state money to acquire 11 cars for his wives. The vehicles include four Range Rovers – $60,000 each, two Land Rover Discovery – $40,000 each, two Audi Q7s – $60,000 each, and three Audi A6s – $50,000 each.

  • Philanthropy

Jacob Zuma also spends on charity. He launched the Jacob Zuma Foundation that focuses on the educational needs of less privileged kids and the accommodation needs of South Africans living in abject poverty.

7. Thabo Mbeki

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Thabo Mbeki image source

  • Age: 79
  • Date Of Birth: 18 June 1942
  • Net Worth: $10 Million
  • Office: 2nd President of South Africa
  • Active in Politics Since: 1961 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Diplomacy
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Mbewuleni, Cape Province in South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: South Africa’s Deputy President from 1994 to 1999, President of South Africa from 1999 to 2008

Except for the late Nelson Mandela and Kgalema Motlanthe, all other black presidents of SA made the list of the richest politicians in South Africa, including Thabo Mbeki. He was born into a family of politicians and activists who were staunch members of the African National Congress. Mbeki earned his keep through politics and diplomacy.

Politics

Mbeki participated in what the apartheid government of South Africa called anti-party activities which forced him to go on exile in 1962. He, however, later returned in 1994 to clinch the position of the deputy president of South Africa alongside Klerk under Nelson Mandela. Mbeki became SA’s president in 1999 and remained on the seat till his resignation in 2004.

Diplomacy

Mbeki’s fortune of R10 million did not only accrue from his political career, but he also earned it through his work as a diplomat. Surprisingly, the former president has never ventured into business and is counted among the SA politicians that have no business ties.

How He Spends His Money

  • House

Thabo Mbeki sure lives the plush lifestyle. The ex-South African president resides in Riviera, Johannesburg where he built a sprawling retirement home. The house, which according to reports is fit for a king, is embellished with the best of original wooden floors, a steel strong room, and crystal chandeliers. The outdoor entertainment amenities include a plunge pool, a beautiful garden, and a lapa.

8. Bulelani Ngcuka

Richest Politicians in South Africa
Bulelani Ngcuka image source

  • Age: 67
  • Date Of Birth: 2 May 1954
  • Net Worth: $10 Million
  • Office: Nil
  • Active in Politics Since: 1987 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business, Legal Career
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Middledrift, Eastern Cape in South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: Senator from 1994 to 1997, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) from 1999 to 2004

When it is time to take a roll call of the wealthy men in South Africa, Bulelani Ngcuka is one man whose name cannot be omitted. The legal practitioner cum politician gained prominence as far back as 2013 when he made it to the 137th position on the list of SA’s richest men with a whopping R203 million fortune. Eight years on, Bulelani still enjoys relevance as a wealthy man; he has earned several mentions in the SA political realm and is among the richest politicians in South Africa. He made his money through his law practice, politics, and business.

Law Profession

The politician’s career as a lawyer saw him work in Geneva for a couple of years. During his time there, Bulelani was with the International Labour Organization (ILO), precisely at its Equality of Human Rights branch. Returning to his home country, he was employed by N.J Yekiso & Associates Law Firm and in 1989, he launched his law firm called Partner Ngcuka & Martana Law Firm.

Politics

Like many others before him, the legal practitioner started out in anti-apartheid activism. He later became ANC’s chief whip in the parliament; a position that lasted from 1994 to 1997. A year after he left the South African parliament, he was elected as the first National Director of Public Prosecutions; he stayed until his resignation in 2004. Important to note that his wife was also neck-deep in politics, emerging as the first female deputy president of SA, serving from 2005 to 2008.

Business

Bulelani Ngcuka resigned from politics to move into the world of business where he has accumulated a massive amount of wealth. He founded Vuwa Investments (Proprietary) Ltd where he serves as the chairman. Other companies founded by him include Menzies Aviation SA, City Lodge Holdings, Amadlelo Agri, M&S Holdings, and Rolfes Technologies. His quest to break new horizons seems to be unquenchable which comes as no surprise, considering the type of woman he has for a wife. Bulelani Ngcuka’s wife, a champion/advocate of black capitalism, once told her countrymen that there is nothing to be ashamed of in becoming filthy rich.

9. Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele image source

  • Age: 73
  • Date Of Birth: 28 December 1947
  • Net Worth: $5.5 million
  • Office: Nil
  • Active in Politics Since: 2013 to 2014
  • Other Sources of Income: Medical Practice, business
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Bochum District, Transvaal in South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: Presidential candidate for Democratic Alliance in 2014

Making the list as the only female among the richest politicians in South Africa is Mamphela Ramphele. In 2011, Forbes magazine listed her among the wealthiest African women alongside other SA nationals like Irene Charnley, Bridgette Radebe, Wendy Appelbaum, Pam Golding, and many more. She made her money through politics, medical practice, and business.

Politics

The daughter of primary school teachers, Ramphele’s childhood experience saw her become an anti-apartheid activist, and subsequently, she contributed towards the formation of the Black Consciousness Movement. It was thanks to these activities that her path crossed with Steve Biko and they commenced a relationship. Though there was no significant political position recorded under her name, the medical practitioner founded her own political party called Agang South Africa.

The party, which was launched in 2013, greatly challenged the ANC with the hope of ousting it. In anticipation of the 2014 elections, she consented to run as the Democratic Alliance presidential flag bearer before she promptly withdrew. She resigned from politics the same year after helping her party members to score a couple of seats in the SA parliament. Her resignation was a result of the division that took over Agang South Africa, making the medical doctor decide to go back to her old activities in civil society.

Business

The only female among the richest politicians in South Africa served as a Managing Director with the World Bank and her accrued experience led her to invest in multiple ventures that gave rise to her fortune of $5.5 million. The investment company known as Circle Capital belongs to her family and Mamphela Ramphele was deeply involved in it.

Medical Practice and Academics

As a medical doctor, the female politician authored quite a few books and became a research fellow with the University of Cape Town in 1986. In 1991, she was named as the institutions’ Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Five years later in 1996, Ramphele became the first black woman to ascend to the position of Vice-Chancellor in the history of University education in South Africa. She is associated with the Kennedy School of Government under Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she was a visiting scholar.

10. Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan image source

  • Age: 72
  • Date Of Birth: 12 April 1949
  • Net Worth: $5 million
  • Office: Minister of Public Enterprises
  • Active in Politics Since: 1999 to date
  • Other Sources of Income: Business investments
  • State of Origin/Region/City: Durban, South Africa
  • Major Political Offices Held: Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs from 2014 to 2015, Minister of Finance from 2009 to 2014, and from 2015 to 2017, Minister of Public Enterprises from 2018 to date.

Born as Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan in 1949, Gordhan is among South Africa’s frontline economic minds. The Minister of Public Enterprises accrued his $5 million net worth from politics and wise business investments which have earned him a place among the richest politicians in South Africa.

Politics

Activism was what got Gordhan into politics as he joined the African National Congress in the fight against apartheid South Africa. He became part of the SACP – South African Communist Party before the end of apartheid in the country. Post-apartheid, he became an elected member of the SA parliament, serving from 1994 to 1998. From 1999 to 2009, Gordhan was appointed a commissioner, serving with the country’s Revenue Service. He assumed office as SA’s Minister of Finance for two tenors, the first one was accomplished from 2009 to 2014. He started the second tenor in 2015 and concluded in 2017. Presently, he is South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises.

Business Investments

Gordhan made several wise investments that have contributed to his $5 million fortune. Going by his declaration of interest in 2017, he owns shares in over 40 companies. This includes 25,000 shares in various property investment trusts. In addition, he has stakes in FNB, Absa, Standard Bank, and Nedbank with shares reported to be above 6,500.

Also, he invested in Naspers, British American Tobacco Company, MTN, Remgro, BHP Billiton, and Steinhoff International.

Chacha
Chacha is a writer with a wealth of experience who has contributed across several channels. Her specialty includes celebrity lifestyle including how top movie stars, musicians, and comedians live their lives.
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