Gautrain, the multibillion rand
The multibillion rand Gautrain

PATRICE Motsepe could foot the entire bill for the first phase of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

If the richest South African - according to the 2012 Sunday Times Rich List - were to cash in all his investments in African Rainbow Minerals and Sanlam it would come to R20.07-billion, enough to pay the debt incurred to upgrade 185km of Gauteng's highways - without costing taxpayers or the government an extra cent.

If Motsepe and the next 34 people on the Rich List all cashed in their investments, they could cover SA's R153-bn budget deficit. Or, if Motsepe and Shoprite chairman Christo Wiese, the second-richest South African, put their riches together, they could pay for another Gautrain project of around R30-billion and have enough money left to cover 75% of the July trade deficit of R6.7-bn.

The minister of human settlements and possible presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale no longer appears on the Rich List after moving his investments into blind trusts when he joined the cabinet in 2009.

However, another possible presidential candidate is businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, who is worth R3.08-billion in investments. This would be enough to build about 57000 RDP houses, which could be worth several times that in votes.

Aside from housing, healthcare is another pressing social issue in SA. The wealth of Adrian Gore, the CEO of Discovery Holdings and number 18 on the Rich List, could cover the cost of the National Health Insurance's pilot projects almost three times.

Some of the richest of the Rich List can even outdo their own companies on certain deals. The wealth of Aspen Pharmacare's CEO, Stephen Saad, number nine on the Rich List, and deputy CEO Gus Attridge, number 21, adds up to R8.61-billion.

This is almost four times the R2.2-bn that Aspen's subsidiary, Aspen Global, recently paid for GlaxoSmithKline's pharmaceutical range in Australia.

The Ackerman Family Trust is 11th on the Rich List thanks to its 49.35% stake in Pick n Pay. It is worth R4.94-billion, which is more than four times the R1.2-bn Pick n Pay got when it sold Franklins Supermarkets in Australia last year.

Aside from the big things the rich can buy, they can buy vast numbers of the small things in their own companies.

Naspers CEO Koos Bekker, who is worth R3.7-billion and is 14th on the Rich List, could buy 1.27billion copies of the Daily Sun, the media group's biggest seller, at R2.90 each.

Meyer Kahn, who stepped down as chairman of SABMiller earlier this year, is worth R565.72-million and ranks 46th on the Rich List. He could buy more than 81million bottles of Castle beer.

Graham Mackay, SABMiller's new executive chairman, will not go thirsty as his wealth of R464.59-million could buy him 67million bottles of Castle.

Panagiotis Halamandaris is the nonexecutive chairman of Famous Brands, which owns Steers. He is worth R563.3-million and is 47th on the Rich List. His wealth could buy him more than 14million King Steer Burgers.

Country Bird executive director Kevin James is 51st on the Rich List. With his wealth of R516.56-million he could buy 11.5million fresh whole chickens in a supermarket at about R45 each.

Johann Rupert's wealth of R1.59-bn, which puts him 23rd on the Rich List, could buy 353 Ferrari F50s similar to the one his son crashed in 2008. It was just as well that the car was not written off as only 349 of these cars were built.

Steinhoff boss and racehorse owner Markus Jooste is 31st on the Rich List with investments worth R990.27-million. Bearing in mind that the highest price paid for a racehorse in SA was R4-million for Devine's Jet, Jooste could, in theory, buy 247 such horses.

* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times