William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

No skaam. The dire state of an increasingly brazen SA

South Africa is in a dire state. Incompetence and irresponsibility are rife. Bad behaviour is the norm and few dare challenge it, which contributes to the undermining of democracy.

No, that’s not opposition Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille, on song. Boiled down, that’s the view of Auditor-General Terence Nombombe. He was this week lamenting the collapse of the public service at every level, from municipal to national, saying that the government’s lack of support for his office was making it irrelevant.

His concerns echo those of the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. She speaks of how the ‘silent thief’ of corruption has stolen the constitutional dream and how the secrecy Bill would derail her constitutionally mandated role.

As a nation, we should blush at the hash we are making of freedom. Unfortunately, South Africans are not big on embarrassment. Our instinct is to brazen it out.

The popular phrase, ‘S/he has no skaam‘ — one of those subtle Afrikaans words that encompasses being abashed, humbled and ashamed, even humiliated, but also penitent — should be emblazoned on the country’s coat-of-arms. In Khoisan, of course, so that not too many understand it. No one wants their nose rubbed in the national affliction.

We have literally thousands of public servants who stole from the poor but received just a slap on the wrist and are back in their old jobs. No skaam.

We have Jacob Zuma, elected as president despite being mired in corruption allegations, not to forget his penchant for diddling the young daughters of Struggle comrades. No skaam.

We have Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, parliamentarian and African National Congress national executive member, despite convictions for fraud and theft, being found by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ‘politically and morally accountable for gross violations of human rights’, and being accused of involvement in two murders, one of a child. No skaam.

We have Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, head of police intelligence, despite controversially withdrawn charges of abuse of state resources, fraud, corruption, murder and defeating the ends of justice. This week, following sustained pressure from the DA and from within the police, Mdluli was moved sideways, but not suspended, for the duration of an internal investigation into claims of police meddling in politics.

This, as the Police minister knows, is only one aspect of the shenanigans surrounding Mdluli. No skaam.

Mdluli has also appointed seven of his family — his wife (a colonel), his former wife (a colonel), his daughter (a lieutenant-colonel), his son (a captain) and three in-laws — to the police and they, along with Mdluli, have 15 official luxury cars, alleged by the Hawks to have been acquired via a police slush fund. No skaam.

The Mdlulis, admits the cybercrime commander, possess only limited computer skills. But, he explains, his only requirement was that they ‘should be able to mix with people’.

No skaam, this commander. Such managerial cowardice epitomises the pathetic level of public service leadership that Nombombe refers to, saying that ‘the people that are employed by government to do work are least prepared and equipped to do it’.

One can go on and on.

Minor-league ANC politicians in blue light brigades running people off the road. Embezzling parliamentarians who remain cosily in the House, nozzles to the trough. The evangelical head of the Constitutional Court who in a secular state urges his fellow judges to attend a happy-clappy weekend. The deputy-president who drinks premier champagne ‘on behalf’ of the masses. The Breitling-wristed ANC tenderpreneurs who slurp sushi off the bellies of semi-naked models.

And then there is the private sector, with its own unattractive menagerie of skaam-less bloodsucking leeches. Their motto is ‘what is not specifically prohibited is allowed’.

We’re in danger of becoming a useless, crass, status-obsessed, celebrity-struck, soulless society. No skaam.

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    • Don’t Forget

      Don’t forget Brett Kebble with his ‘rent a politician’ tricks or Mr Shaik and Gupta with the same tricks. It’s not only the ANC, not only politicians, and (of course this is obvious, but it’s worth making a point of it) not only people of a certain ethnic group that are guilty of having no skaam.

    • http://southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Week after week, William spews in bitterness in his political partisan blogs. NO SKAAM.
      Puts words into Thuli Madonsela’s mouth. NO SKAAM,
      Constantly speaks of government corruption, as part of our media mafia, to deflect from reality while beneficiaries of apartheid continue to wallow in the spoils of apartheid. NO SKAAM.

      In fact, the strange case of mass amnesia that has afflicted a certain part of our population after 1994 seems to the underlying cause of this lack of shame and denialism of apartheid’s grand theft.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      More Quotes from “African Laughter”:

      “By the time Zimbabwe was born there were three countries to learn from. Mozambique’s economy was in ruins, partly because the whites had been thrown out with all their expertise. In Tanzania, Nyerere, inspired by the examples of the Soviet Union and China, where collectivization had led to the deaths of tens of millions of people, introduced forced collectivization, and the peasants practiced passive resistance, so that in the shops of that fertile country was little food or none…. In Zambia, due to mismanagement, agriculture was such a disaster most of the food was being grown by the few remaining whites…

      When Mugabe was fighting his desperate war in the bush, he said other things that were less than intelligent. One was that compulsory dipping of cattle was a sinister plot by whites to deatroy the cattle…at Liberation the blacks at once stopped dipping, and as a result there were all kinds of diseases…

      The Comrades in the bush announced that making contour ridges to stop erosion was another ploy to undo the blacks…On African farms they were ploughing right across the contour ridges, Gullies formed, which became ravines, water rushed down them carrying precious soil..
      ‘You wait a few years..they won’t have any land left- but they will blame us (whites) for it, as usual'”

    • Benzo

      “….can’t beat them, join them….” seems the culture and political correct.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/McEwansholic Guinnessholic

      The ANC antics remind me of both the Broken Window Theory and the Parable of the same.

      You wonder if their pilfering from the state coffers stems from a belief that their purchase of the largest homes, fastest cars, fattest wives and gaudiest furniture that tax money can buy, is really pumping money into the economy (whilst benefiting themselves, naturally). They really are a bunch of wet-nursed welts, with nary a thought for les vulgares at the best of times, but with extra special attention given to their own comfort and well being.

      I am convinced that this all started with the ANC and will end with them. Once Yengeni got off relatively ‘Xhosa-free’ with nary a peep from the ANC voting block (in fact, he was carried head-and-shoulders out of Pollsmoor by those very same voters), it was a case of the flood-gates being opened (as well as prison gates), and no crime was considered too great to trump struggle credentials as far as the electorate were concerned, and the ANC fat-cats took due notice and buried their collective snouts in the trough as deep as they could go.

      But it has gone a step further. Now, the whistle blowers (especially if they’re white) are the New (unimproved) South African perpetrators, and the miscreants are now the victims. I give you one Harry Charlton as exhibit ‘A’ from Travelgate fame, and 40 MP’s who DIDN’T have to move to New Zealand and got away with a firm slap on the wrist for abusing the tax-payer.

      The future doesn’t look…

    • ansiezdutoit

      I do not think the article was about the skaam of everybody, but the skaam specifically of the government. Ek is skaam for my government. That is not a great position for anybody to be in. I am proud of my country and its people, but the government has let everybody down, green, black and pink.

    • A.A.Afonso

      I do not understand, this happens all over the world so why make a fuss?
      Before I get shot down, this is tong in cheek.

    • MLH

      It’s time for us all to stand up and be counted!

    • john-brian dawes

      Well done William. Some body had to say it. Saying nothing is always taken has condoning.
      The English South African expression ‘Ag Shame’ – literally means ‘that’s nice’ ( without irony) so maybe our corruption gang think they are doing ok.

      Maybe democracy has to be corrupt to work?

    • MindlessVoter

      Reminder to my brothers and sisters: Hey don’t forget to vote them back in at the next election. So this wonderful state can continue. All these stories are created falsely by the media and grossly exaggerated. I’m fine, pull up the ladder. Fire the dissenters. Leave my studio alone… Agents, the lot of them. Skaam is a racist word. We shall all eat cake until we are sated..and we are still hungry. Tomorrow is another day. Viva whatever he said.

    • beachcomber

      You forgot Fikile Mbalula, Gerald Majola, Beki Cele, the Schaiks …. who else? Oh yes … the entire cabinet who are guilty by association.

      What a circus …

    • Balt Verhagen

      The lamentations rise in a swelling chorus, yet this present sorry state of affairs was visible a long time ago. When Harry Oppenheimer announced way back in 1988 that Anglo American would quickly advance some promising young blacks into high positions to serve, as he put, as “role models for their people”, when cadre after cadre on trickling back into the country out of exile fell for the siren call of quick millions from vested interests, some becoming millionaires and then billionaires overnight, when the obfuscations started following Patricia de Lille’s questions around the arms deal, when a future president, a commissioner of police and other big-wigs were seen associating with two-bit crooks – these were sure signs of the precipitate moral decline at the cente of power. This rapidly became the norm amongst the deployed cadres in the civil service and the private economic sector realised that impunity reigned. But then, in the early days, it was highly non-PC to criticise a ‘liberation government’ and there was fear around the increasing use of the race card. It is encouraging that now more and more prominent figures are raising their voices and that – should this still be an issue? – many of them are black.The wolf is at the door and, to continue with a different metaphore can humpty dumpty be put together again? We did leave it very late indeed.

    • Nzou

      Week after week, Dave Harris spews in bitterness in his political partisan trash. NO SKAAM.
      Supports Thuli Madonsela’s mouth. NO SKAAM,
      Constantly supports corruption in government, as part of cadre deployed mafia, to deflect from reality while beneficiaries of cadre deployment continue to wallow in the spoils of corruption. NO SKAAM.

      In fact, his strange case of mass amnesia that has afflicted a certain part of his brain seems to the underlying cause of this lack of shame and denialism of his support for grand theft.

    • Anne Coventry

      @ Dave Harris: you are blaming the BOA’s for your party’s appointments and failures?

      No, please don’t bother to explain how we are responsible for your choices – it wouldn’t make any more sense than your other utterances.

    • Anti Corruption

      Notice that Dave Harris says ‘ WSM constantly speaks of government corruption, as part of our media mafia, to deflect from reality ….’. Well, this is too confusing for anyone to make sense of – but at least he notes that the government corruption is reality. If Harris is saying it is not reality, then he is making a claim which is obviously completely untrue.

    • Maggie

      Well said William! The latest Gallup survey proves the ANC government to be on TOP!!!! of the Corruption Ladder! Google http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5973996/Users/Pooja/G-Gallup.pdf

    • Helen Chieza

      @Lyndall Beddy – I have just wondered. I have read your comments. I have questions; Do you consider yourself to be African, I mean indigenous African? Do you realy fill African deep down inside of you OR you feel European African the way African Americans are? Do you honestly believe you have an equal claim to Africaness like all black Africans. Do you feel sorry and apologetic about apartheid? I am still wondering how you got away in one piece in all these wars of liberation. Lastly be honest, how do yot feel when you see a black African? Do you think an African is capable of honesty, intelligence and even being artistic?

    • Peter Joffe

      NO SKAAM? I don’t quite see it that way? I see it as an ANC that has gone power and greed mad? They simply thumb their noses at the public, (the educated public that is, but they don’t care about any other than the votes of the uneducated ones) saying ‘We know what we are doing is wrong, you know what we are doing is wrong but, there is nothing that you can do about it so shut up. We the ANC are tabling our Gag Bill soon and then we won’t even have to be ‘no Skaam’ because you won’t even know what we are doing, other than seeing the well run dry”.
      If you want your skin to crawl all you have to do is to watch the ANC conferences on TV and see the mindless support for Zuma and his corrupt ministers, plainly out in the open. Watch and despair at singing, dancing and the hysteria when Zuma sings his machine gun song. What happened to our first world dreams of 1994? Why is a return to the world of the begging bowl a better option that an opportunity for all?
      Perhaps I am being over pessimistic when I walk into a brand new Checkers, that has just opened in my suburb, see all the goodies on display and wonder if, as in Zimbabwe, there will be anything at all on the shelves by 2020? The shame of Democracy is that sanity is not part of the equation – all that counts are votes.

    • Dolores Coullie

      I thought this article was fantastic, spot on……….No Skaam = shameless behaviour.

    • http://hismastersvoice.wordpress.com/ The Creator

      In fact there is quite a lot of shame. The people responsible for the mismanagement obviously do not feel shame, and nor do the beneficiaries of their criminal largesse. However, the current instability within the ANC, and the lack of democratic accountability there, is evidence that the ANC’s leadership do not think that they are secure in their positions. In other words, that the rank and file of the party are not happy with what the Zuma gang are up to. Not to mention the voting public, which has increasingly turned away from the ANC since Polokwane.

      The trouble is that shame is not a healthy emotion. It could be made healthy if it led you to change your ways towards better behaviour. I see very little sign of that; the instability within the ANC is instead being exploited by people who hope to get their own slice of the increasingly mouldy cake.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      I do NOT feel a black Africa – they are colonisers who killed off the original people of the world, the brown Bushmen.

      I identify as a descendent of the brown Bushmen, NOT of the blacks who migrated here from Asia and killed them off in a genocide.

    • http://lennymaysay.wordpress.com Lenny Appadoo

      Another piece that’s spot on, WSM. Nice work. No need to feel skaam about being White and speaking the truth. I’m Indian and with you 100%.

      I’ll even go further and mention my shame at belonging to a race that seems to prop up this disgraceful democracy, because it’s not hard to find a despicable, thieving Indian behind every corrupt politician.

      As to Dave Harris: what Nzou said.

    • Charlotte

      To add to ‘beachcomber’s contemptible list, this morning’s sick-making news:
      Text books (religiously promised by Zuma – which religion is he diddling this time?) have still not been delivered to schools in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

      Supposed to have been ordered by the end of last year by the Provincial government, failing which, by the Central government, neither did so.
      It is the middle of May! According to a teacher, the children spend the day doing nothing. So do the teachers.
      How’s that for the ANC cocking a snoot at Education? at the children of their voting public? at the country’s future? – the country they are supposed to be serving – not scalping!

      ‘No skaam’ is putting it mildly. More like a total disgrace! A debacle of self-serving greed, disdain, indifference and contempt – embracing all the letters which represents what the ANC now stands for: Arrogance, Nepotism & Corruption.

      ‘No skaam’ belongs to the indignant, ignorant and indigent protesters, who will allow the vilification and ruination of our country to continue, by voting this despicable government in again.

    • Charlotte

      @ beachcomber.
      Apologies. … I think I wrote what is known as a ‘misplaced modifyer”. I should have written: ” To add to ‘beachcomber’s’ list of what is contemptible …”

    • Classified Coloured

      ‘Proudly S.African’? …

      Since Mandela, is there anything the ANC has done which has made the people of this country reasonably satisfied. Not proud – just satisfied?

      And because whatever an ANC politician touches leaves a smelly stain, it would even be better if it were nothing at all, rather than ‘deficient’ (which is the norm now, because iif it hasn’t been stolen, it doesn’t work any more – and the people who were able to work it, have been ‘disempowered’.)

      Jobs, despite being completely unqualified and without the foggiest idea how to do the work, are given to the leaders of the ANC’s kinfolk.
      Mdluli’s largesse – 15 luxury cars from a police slush fund to 7 newly appointed family ‘officials’ – was justified because ‘they could mix with people”..

      ‘Proudly S.African’? The whole country has been reduced to ‘Shamefully S African’.

    • ConCision

      Top Dog ANC Blog
      Disruption & Corruption:
      ANC’s Claim to Fame
      – – – – – –

      Its not about the betterment of the people
      Even though that’s what we claim
      It’s about getting away with what we can
      That is simply the ANC’s aim.

      Money, bling, power and showing off
      Is all in the name of the game
      Deceiving and stealing from the poor
      Doesn’t cause us any shame.

      And if we are caught and convicted
      To us, it’s all one and the same
      We’re unlikely to ever be punished
      See, we have apartheid to blame.