'Dr Maponya‘s life a testament to resilience' - Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS

The late entrepreneur Richard Maponya has been hailed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a trailblazer for having found successes in business during apartheid, a time when all odds were against black people.

Maponya died at age of 99 in the early hours of Monday morning following a short illness.

Ramaphosa said that Maponya paved the way for racial transformation in the South African economy.

“Dr Maponya‘s life is a testament to resilience, determination and the power of vision: namely to see a black business grow to assume its full role as the key participant and driver of our economy,” said Ramaphosa.

Maponya started his small grocery store where they also distributed milk in Soweto in the early 1950s, he went on to build an empire that included a car dealership, liquor store,  a supermarket, filling station and a R450 million shopping mall through a joint venture with property group Zenprop.

He became a well-known icon in Soweto and South Africa as a whole for spearheading black people’s involvement in business.

He founded the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) in 1964 to look out for black business people’s interests during apartheid.

“He was of that rare breed of entrepreneurs who would not be held back or become disheartened by difficult operating conditions - in fact, having obstacles put in his path drove him even further to succeed,” Ramaphosa said.

The EFF said African business had lost an icon.

The party’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that unlike most business people today, Maponya was not focused on 'tenderpreneurship'.

“Maponya was not an entrepreneur focused on government tenders or even relying on the bribing of politicians to make money. Long before South Africa had a black government, he was already a brilliant property developer,” Ndlozi said.

“This makes him, not only formidable but a businessman of integrity, something the conditions of kleptocracy inaugurated by the ANC government make impossible.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

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