Mandela’s BMW recounts the funny story of the ex-President’s loan car

ByElizabeth J. Bohn

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The previous head of strategic planning and community affairs at BMW South Africa and friend of Double Apex, Chris Moerdyk recounts the funny tale of President Mandela’s prolonged check push of a BMW 7 Collection.

In the early 1990s, my position as head of strategic arranging at BMW South Africa grew to become a tiny much more critical than quite ‘strategically’ setting up to just transpire to be in the neighbourhood of St Andrew’s in Scotland around about the time the Open up Championship was getting performed. Or, trying to produce a 5-12 months plan without having basically being aware of what the social, political or financial setting was likely to be like by tea time the next day.

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A new SA

Anyway, an vital section of our corporate strategic strategy in those people times centred close to the guy who was going to develop into the new president of South Africa. On just one hand, it did not just take rocket science to know that below his leadership South Africa would prosper. As a consequence multi-nationals this sort of as BMW would be ready to start exporting from this nation at prolonged past.

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But, there was also a fairly chilling truth that in the heated build-up to the 1994 elections. There would be some people in South Africa who would not want to see Mandela as president. Therefore, the prospect of his assassination could not be discounted. So, in the pursuits of the upcoming of South Africa and to protect against the collapse of business enterprise by means of this form of calamity, we made the decision that it was considerably way too unsafe for Mandela to just be driven about in an regular motor vehicle.

Bulletproof Beemer

The Tricky Tale of Mandela’s BMW

We obtained authorization from the head office in Germany to give him an armoured BMW 7 Series. It was complete with bullet-resistant home windows and bodywork. I had its very own oxygen source and operate-flat tyres. It even has gun ports by way of which his bodyguards could adhere two device guns saved in a little compartment above the sunshine visors and blast any attackers to kingdom appear.

At the time, we phoned Cyril Ramaphosa who explained many thanks for the gesture. Unfortunately Mr Mandela could not perhaps take the gift of a car. He additional that these a auto would in all probability have to be purchased for him after he was President. But, in the meantime, he would just have to make do with the car or truck he experienced. We strategised a bit additional and phoned Cyril all over again. I recommended that if the govt was going to obtain him an armoured car when he was president was it not a great thought for him to at the very least have a test generate?  Ramaphosa reluctantly agreed and a day was established up.

Serving the folks

So, about a calendar year before the elections a colleague and I delivered the armoured Beemer to Nelson Mandela at his property in Houghton, Johannesburg. It was early early morning and he had, a several hrs previously, returned from a visit to the Much East. He and Cyril Ramaphosa been given us with friendliness and monumental hospitality.

I was provided tea and stood up to get it from a tray on the sideboard. Ramaphosa stopped me and mentioned that he would pour my tea for the reason that the ANC necessary to get made use of to serving folks. (Something Mr Zuma and his cohorts subsequently forgot about fully.) But, at the time it was quite amazing to be in a place with two of the most humble but charismatic guys I have ever satisfied in my existence.

Out of office environment

For the following yr, BMW’s strategic system was for me to be out of the office environment. I was usually engaged just about every time another person from the ANC would phone to ask when we wished Mandela’s BMW back from the examination push. As it turned out it was the longest examination generate in motoring history. We felt unquestionably no regret for our trickery. We reckoned that anything at all that could maintain the excellent male safe was thoroughly justified.

I achieved Cyril a couple of situations soon after that and continued to be impressed. Generally by his potential to pay attention to the folks close to him in social predicaments. He surely built me feel that he was interested in what I was indicating. He is, without having a doubt, just one of the world’s good men.

Pictures: BMW and Mike Monk/Franschhoek Motor Museum


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