Tag Archive: ANC graft and corruption

(Written 15 December 2013)

Dear All,

With the demise of Nelson Mandela still dominating everything in the news this week, including the advertising, South Africans return again and again to the question, “How did it all go so wrong in the new South Africa? How did it happen that we started heroically with the ANC of Mandela, and a brief decade and a half later, we are saddled with the corrupt and incompetent ANC of Jacob Zuma! At the same we ask rather dolefully, “What can be done to right the ship?”

In thinking of this, the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens came to mind. I first heard this poem recited in 1971 by my good friend Giles Tayelor. We were steaming across the Indian Ocean at the time and I remember the dramatic moment vividly. The two of us were engineer cadets on the SA Vergelegen and he, being a SACS boy and all, had been taught poetry at school. (I had had no such luck having been sent to a technical school.) On that afternoon the blue-black sea was quite rough with storm clouds overhead and we were looking out over the aft deck at the wake of the ship when he told how, in the poem, “the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud, and gurley grew the sea. The ankers brak, and the topmast lap, It was sic a deadly storm”. He recited how the sailors tried valiantly to keep the ship afloat until (depending on the version you read) “a bolt flew from our gude ship’s side, and the salt sea it came in…”  And as every well-educated schoolboy knows, Sir Patrick and the good ship did not survive, the poem ending poignantly, “Half-owre, half-owre to Aberdour, ‘Tis fifty fathoms deep; And there lies Sir Patrick Spens, Wi’ the Scots lords at his feet!” http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/child/ch058.htm

Of course, what makes the story so heroic is that it all started out with hope. Hope that the treacherous journey to bring the king’s daughter back from Norway could be achieved, the poem beginning: “The king sites in Dumferline town Drinking the blude-red wine; “O whare will I get a skeely* skipper To sail this ship of mine?” O up and spak an eldern knight, Sat at the king’s right knee; “Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor That ever Sail’d the sea.”  ”    *skilful

In 1994 we started out with hope, but when we look at the storms gathering in all quarters of South Africa today we see that the “lift is growing dark and the wind is beginning to howl”; and to illustrate the warning signs I draw your attention to the rather strange case of Thamsanqa Jantjie who was appointed by unknown to sign, for the deaf, the speeches at Mandela’s memorial service on 10 December 2013. It is a case that epitomizes the strange world of Jacob Zuma; something captured perfectly by Zapiro.

Zapiro and the interpreter

Zapiro and the interpreter

 Now, before you say the president cannot be responsible for everything, may I say that  I know that Jacob did not appoint the interpreter personally, I know that mistakes happen, and I know that in the bigger scheme of things, Thamsanqa Jantjie’s blatant lies about his being a qualified interpreter for the deaf is a relatively small thing, albeit a sad one. I know that there are fraudsters and shysters all over the world, but consider the circumstances of his appointment.

 The Sunday Times of South Africa, dated 15 December 2013 (p. 3) informs us that the head of the ANC’s religious and traditional affairs desk, Bantubahle Xozwa, happens to own South African Interpreters, the company that employed Jantjies. For these ‘services’, South African Interpreters included in their bill an invoice from another company, Asange Image Studio. The reason being that images are required “for all appearances” of SA Interpreter’s workers. You may well ask why another company is required to provide something that could so easily be acquired in-house until you find out that Asange Image Studio is owned by Cikizwa Xozwa, Bantubahle’s wife. Cikizwa also happens to be the office manager for Jackson Mthembu, the ANC spokesman; small world this. It seems that SA Translators and Asange have done quite a lot of business with the ANC and here is the cherry on top, their “invoices to the ANC all have the same false address and registration number”.

If all of this sounds a bit like everything else that surrounds Jacob Zuma, but you are not convinced, here is the clincher. When it was asked who Jantjies was, remember, this is a man who had been given top security clearance to be in the inner circle with people like the President of the United States, and it was asked how he came to be appointed…, nobody knows! The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu tells us Jantjies’ “services were secured by the government”, but conceded that the ANC has “utilized his services over the years”. Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the government’s deputy minister of women, children and the disabled (by every account a totally dysfunctional department) is quoted as saying that her department did not hire Jantjies. Furthermore, she “did not know who had”; adding that “somebody, somewhere, is lying”. Err, yes, that is one of the few things we worked out pretty quickly.

As noted, this little episode epitomizes Jacob’s administration; everything about it is “so totally Zuma”. In the Zuma world it is OK to provide a mediocre service and defraud the public. We have ample evidence of how those in the inner circle of ‘number 1’ have license to feed from end-to-end through the country as though it were a trough. In the Zuma world it is OK for cabinet ministers to cheat on travel expenses and to botch substantial tenders (Joemat-Peterson), no matter what the cost to the country’s natural resources. And if you get found out, well, just hang in there, the Secrecy Bill is just around the corner to protect the government’s flops. In the Zuma world it is OK to spend an unauthorized MR200 (US$20,000,000) on yourself while pretending it is for your security because if you are the president surrounded by a sycophantic coterie of security ministers, you can have your private home in the rural midlands at Nkandla declared a national key point; while at the same time your friends can land their private airliners at the Waterkloof Airforce Base, a real military installation in a built-up area, because that can be declared… “not be a national key point”. And all the while those actually responsible will know nothing! It is pure Zuma.

So we ask ourselves again, how can the hope we had be saved? Where will we find a skilful skipper to sail this ship of State for we have seen ‘the new moon with the old moon in her arm’, and we know that if we are to continue this way ‘we’ll surely come to harm’. Who can sail South Africa away from the storm that is the accumulation of the corruption, lies, mediocrity and feigned ignorance that characterizes the administration of Jacob Zuma; an administration spectacularly symbolized by the mumbo-jumbo of the delusional Thamsanqa Jantjies?




(Written 22 June 2012)

Dear All,

As one would expect, Singapore is quite different from South Africa in many respects. Certainly the remains of British colonialism gives the two environments a similar look, but it does not take long to work out that the underlying cultures have resulted in very different views of the world.

Consider for example the difference in the everyday sense that corruption is simply unacceptable in Singapore; while… well, despite what the ANC politicians say, sort of, it is ok in South Africa. This contrast is well illustrated by a comparison of an article on the front page of Singapore’s The Straits Times (22 June 2012) and an online report on South Africa’s Times Live of the same date. In the Singapore paper the article is headed ‘Senior MFA official under probe over expense claims’, while in the South African article it is “Judgements reserved in Mdluli case”.

Senior MFA official under probe Singapore

Official is suspended and that is that

It turns out that Mr Lim, who has been head of protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 10 years has been accused of making improper expense clams in regard to trips abroad. Mr Lim is described in the article as a “go to guy” who has served the ministry “very well” for 38 years and is highly respected. In 2009 he was awarded Singapore’s silver medal for Public Administration. An ambassador is quoted as saying that “This is very surprising, he is a good guy, very straight”, a view underscored by the fact that the position of head of protocol is given only to those “trusted by the top echelons of government”. Investigations have only begun and no-one knows if Mr Lim is guilty or not, but he has been suspended from his position and his pay has been docked anyway. As far as could be established, Mr Lim has not been arrested.

Mdluli contests suspension

Well, is he suspended or isn’t he?

Richard Mdluli on the other hand stands accused inter alia of murder, misappropriation of secret police funds and nepotism. He also stands accused of being responsible for the leaking of sensitive tapes and emails that have proved to be greatly advantageous to Jacob Zuma. See http://thepatterns.info/crime-intelligence-head-saga-reveals-a-growing-threat-to-the-rule-of-law-in-south-africa/ Incidentally, I note that Mdluli is using the old Shabier Shaik hypertension ploy (perhaps preparing a get-out-of-jail card) to muddy the waters while legally contesting, not whether he is innocent or guilty, but whether some detail of the delivery of his suspension notice was correct or not… and for this judgement has to be reserved. In the meantime Richard Mdluli is on full pay and wandering about as free as a bird.

Singapore is a huge success story in the improvement of people’s lives while South Africa’s public administration is a dysfunctional quagmire in which, for the last 20 years, the quality of life of ordinary people has remained the same at best. And sadly, the prospects of any improvement in the near to medium future are dismal. And all the while there are ANC members in Parliament who have actually been found guilty of what Mr Lim is only accused of doing – cheating on expense accounts – with the difference that the guilty ANC members in South Africa are still sitting in parliament, still making laws, and still supposedly providing fiduciary oversight on behalf of the people! Astonishingly, the Northern Cape ANC recently re-elected John Block as their chairman despite his facing a comprehensive set of charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering! What the hell is that electorate thinking? http://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2012/06/08/john-block-re-elected-as-anc-northern-cape-chair And the poor people in South Africa cheer Julius Malema when he tells them how he feels their pain because others have stolen their wealth; but then he drives away in a fleet of BMWs, wearing expensive suits and a breitling watch, to recently acquired properties worth millions, for which there is no accounting other than to point solidly to corrupt tenderpreneuring. Still the people see no irony ! The list of ANC officials still in office who have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar goes on and on, but for me the most inexplicable is that the ANC elected a president who was known to have received money under very dubious circumstances from a convicted fraudster, but no matter, they put him in the highest office anyway!

So ask yourself this question, is there a link between the electorate’s tolerance for  corruption and the State’s failure to provide basic services to the people? I certainly think so. And then wonder why it is that the supporters of the ANC allow themselves and the country to be abused in this way? That is the part that has me flummoxed. Perhaps more of the South African electorate should visit Singapore; none of that ANC ambiguity about graft and corruption here, that’s for sure.