Johann Rupert set to receive humanitarian award in the US

South African businessman Johann Rupert will receive a humanitarian award in New York in three weeks' time for his philanthropy and work with the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

He will be honoured alongside Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the Appeal of Conscience World Leader Award for 2018.

According to its website, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation is "an interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders [that] promotes peace, tolerance and ethnic conflict resolution".

Recent recipients of the award include former French president Francois Hollande, former British prime minister David Cameron and businessman and former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.

Foundation spokesperson Howard Cannon described Rupert as a widely respected international businessman "who has worked to promote humanitarian causes across the world". He added that Rupert has used his wealth to "make the world a better place" and that the foundation's board decided that he would be a worthy recipient.

"He is someone who made sure that business 'steps up'," Cannon said.

'Ill-gotten privilege'

The award ceremony will be held on September 22, 2018, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York with the keynote address to be delivered by Steven Mnuchin, the American secretary of the treasury.

Rupert is executive chairperson of luxury goods group Richemont and investment company Reinet. He also serves as non-executive chairperson of Remgro, the Stellenbosch-based investments holding company.

He has in recent times been critical of government, calling former president Jacob Zuma's policy of "radical economic transformation" a code-word for "theft". The ANC criticised his remark saying it "betrays his ill-gotten privilege".

Rupert was a prominent target of the Bell Pottinger propaganda campaign in 2016 and 2017 in which he was targeted as the embodiment of "white monopoly capital".

The businessman, who according to associates spends millions of rand from his personal fortune on various upliftment projects, including scholarships, bursaries, feeding schemes and the transfer of title deeds to people in Stellenbosch and Graaff-Reinet, does not speak publicly of his charity work.

He did however tell News24 that he was "honoured" to be receiving the award alongside Lagarde.

"I normally don't accept these types of things. This one is however different and I'm doing it for my children," he said.