William Saunderson-Meyer
William Saunderson-Meyer

Merrily down the tube, drinkies in hand

South Africa’s annual midsummer shutdown has begun. For the next six weeks the entire economy switches to ‘pause’ mode.

It’s a merry interval that’s grown insidiously over the years. What used to be a week off between Christmas and New Year, expanded to encompass at one end the Day of Reconciliation in mid-December and, at the other end, the Cape tradition of a Tweede Nuwejaar.

It’s now the norm for builders merchants after mid-November to delay new stock orders because any supply delay leaves them holding costly inventory from when contractors down tools on December 14 until they resume in mid-January. At the same time, enough professionals extend their holidays into mid-January, to make the business of business impossible until after their return. And, increasingly, children don’t have to attend school after their last exam, so for some the holidays start as early as November 27.

Such hedonism would once have offended mightily my puritan sensibilities, but one mellows. While the world might frown at our tenuous work ethic, I now think it’s great. If the country is to go down the tubes, let’s do it en famille, chilled around the braai and with a glass of plonk in hand.

But before indolence, let’s start taking stock of 2012. This was another annus horribilis for President Jacob Zuma’s government, as it continues its slide into a morass of corruption.

Ironically it’s those charged with fighting corruption, the SA Police Service, who are at the sharp end. Not only did they kill 34 miners at Marikana, but it is difficult to imagine that the investigating judicial commission will not find, whatever the other factors behind the massacre, that the police are ill-trained, ill-equipped, ill-disciplined and poorly led.

There’s other evidence enough of that. In the past year, 720 people were shot dead by the police or died in police custody. Only 13 officers were convicted of wrongdoing.

Gauteng SAPS arrested 600 of its officers for corruption in a year. At any moment, more than 600 SAPS officers are on suspension with full pay.

More than 27 000 active service police officers have failed their firearm proficiency test. Of the 130 000 remaining officers, 55 000 have yet to be trained, before taking the test, but SAPS hasn’t the resources to do so. Over the past 18 months, 1,200 police firearms were lost or stolen.

The problems start at the top. For the second time, the African National Congress appointment to head the police has been fired following corruption allegations. Yet another ANC stalwart, also with zero policing background, was appointed as National Commissioner just prior to the Marikana massacre and for now is hanging in there.

R140 000 was taken from a police slush fund to build a wall around Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s house. (Incidentally, walls were hot property this year. Zingile Dingane, the secretary to Parliament, lied to get a soft loan for building an even bigger and better wall than Mthethwa’s, costing R186 000.)

Major-General Richard Mdluli was appointed to head of police intelligence, despite controversially withdrawn charges against him of abuse of state resources, fraud, corruption, murder and defeating the ends of justice. As a Zuma protégé, Mdluli had aspirations to be the next National Commissioner but faced the minor hurdle of National Prosecuting Authority’s specialised crime unit regional head, Glynnis Breytenbach, wanting to nail him on fraud charges.

Instead Breytenbach was suspended. Eventually, in response to public outcry, Mdluli was also suspended, for using the intelligence service to meddle in politics.

Mdluli, a true family man, appointed 23 relatives to cushy SAPS jobs, including his wife (a colonel), his former wife (a colonel), his daughter (a lieutenant-colonel), and his son (a captain). The Hawks claim the family managed to lay claim to 15 official luxury cars and that R150 000 was diverted for ‘security improvements’ – another wall? – at Mdluli’s home, all paid from a SAPS slush fund.

The Mdluli saga encapsulates the woes of SAPS and SA: deployed incompetents, nepotism, corruption, arrogance and the perversion of state security to serve the party. The response of ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe to the Mdluli matter shows how far we are from a solution: ‘Why should the case of a civil servant who is in trouble with his department become a national matter? Why should it be elevated to a national question?’

Sigh! Expect 2013 to be another tough one.

Tags: , ,

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

      Not sure if you received the memo about the days of apartheid being over! LOL No, William, you and your ilk can no longer drive workers like slaves! Remember how the menial labourers would get a measly bonus during Christmas, ironically the only day you would force blacks to celebrate the birth of “white Jesus”, and a miserly day or do to make their trek to the homelands to reunite with their families who could not live with them because of your draconian pass laws! ntw. The “Tweede Nuwejaar” is the born out of the Cape coloured (Kaapse Klopse) resistance against exploitation, a tradition that the DA run government has tried to unsuccessfully quash over the years!

      Your claim of having a “puritan work ethic” is a biog LIE, simply look at your fatherland, bankrupt Europe to see what its work ethic leads to.

      Glynnis Breytenbach, a product of the apartheid’s white affirmative action, was desperately looking for media support to justify her political agenda of corruption claims. She overstepped her authority numerous times in her current job – a clear case of employee insubordination. There are a multitude of democratic due process avenues she could have pursued if she was really concerned about fighting corruption, instead she chose to engage in DA gutter politics with the media mafia.

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

      In a previous blog you blamed President Zuma for the Marikana massacre now you blame the police?! I suppose you’d fabricate and speculate on just about anything just to deflect of the real culprits that set the stage for this tragedy – LONMIN MANAGEMENT! You still remain strangely silent on the Lonmin’s CEO sudden mysterious hospitalization, the very day of the massacre and the role of Lonmin management in feeding the rivalry between unions resulting in numerous violent confrontations.

      Just like the end of your apartheid privileges, it seems like as the end of the year approaches, your bizarre arguments get more brazen and desperate.

    • Heinrich Becker

      Dave : Strange that you have much to say about Glynnis’s “political agenda” but nothing about the criminality, nepotism, corruption and rot surrounding Mdluli.

      Perhaps you should pour yourself a dop, chill out and try to bump those issues before the New Year. Let me wish you a happy one.

    • DeeGee

      @ Harris. Hahahaaha! Brilliant. This from the same person who thinks the non-delivery of textbooks is a ‘storm in a teacup’. Presumably Zuma’s wanton and blatant thievery is Apartheid’s fault (following the following logic: we didn’t join the struggle to be poor; the struggle was to topple Apartheid. Ergo, it’s Apartheid’s fault). You are a wonderful fabulist. Certainly the best sense of humour on this site. Keep it up!

    • Anne Coventry

      One of the yardsticks of a great leader is the calibre of those he appoints to high office. Zuma’s appointments have almost all been a disaster. His criteria have been purely selfish: how to reward those who have done him favours, and what they can do for him.

      His financial state proves that he has no morals and no pride, and he is completely unethical. The ANC is welcome to appoint such a wastrel as their leader – but they shouldn’t be allowed to foist such a disgrace on all South Africans.

    • Charlotte

      We had a dog like that once. We would throw a ball, but – although waiting in feverish anticipation – before he could retrieve it, we would say… very slowly, ‘Ready’ …
      ‘Steady’ … ‘Almost There’ …(long pause) … and then ‘GO!’ Upon which, he would then madly rush for the ball and bring it back to us.
      We used to show guests how well-trained he was. He was rewarded by being made a fuss of afterwards; – but, let’s face it, you can only do the trick so many times ….

      … And there sits DD waiting, watching, lips drooling, gazing at the screen, eyes unblinking, for the name WSM to appear…..
      And there it is! – And He’s Off !! Same old routine, same old racist invective – but he got the ball first!!! And his hate-filled maso-narcissm is appeased as well. (Remember, he doesn’t mind how much one disputes or disproves the rubbish he speaks – as long as he is the centre of attention.)

      Except for ANC politicians, who never work at any time and wouldn’t know the diference anyway, we are – as WSM says – already caught up in the holiday spirit.
      Why don’t the moderators also give us as break and put’ ‘DD’ Harris out to air until, at least, after new year? It would also be a good testing period. Let’s see, at the end of it, whether anyone misses this racially-biased ‘boring old relic’.

    • Charlotte

      By ‘out to air’ I meant ‘stick him outside in the dogbox or something ‘ – not ‘give him more chance to air his views’ – or ‘view’, as it is in his case.
      We’ve heard it ad nauseum.

    • Free Speech

      Maybe Charlotte, but one needs to defend the right of free speech no matter what one thinks of it – Harris may have nothing to share but bile, lies and propaganda, and is inevitably dishonest about what others have said, but one still should defend his right to speak, however bilious the speech.

    • Observing

      Anne – it’s even worse than you think. Read the KPMG forensic report on Zuma’s financial affairs and you will be truly horrified – it shows conduct not suited to a head of state, any state. It reads like the catalogue of crimes of a Mafia boss or Sicilian ganglord. Honestly, I am not making it up, it is a real life, no-holds-barred crime story. It should be compulsory reading for every South African and every overseas diplomat in SA.

    • Democrat

      Unlike the tiny elitist class of commissars and propagandists that Harris represents, free thinking peope still need to defend the right of such propagandists to express their views, and trust in the intelligence of people to see through it. ‘I may not agree with anything that you say, it may be lies and bile, but I will defend at all costs your right to say it.’ Such is the definition of democracy – real democracy, not SA ruling party style. Let’s stick with and stand up for this definition of democracy.

    • Anne Coventry

      @Observing: Yes, I’ve read the basics and am now wading through the 500 page document. The fact that Zuma has so little pride or integrity as to be able to accept these ‘gifts’ is unbelievable. The only conclusion one can come to is that he knows they are not ‘gifts’, but that something is required in return. It must be obvious to the ‘givers’ that money is unlikely to be paid back, so they must be expecting favours in return.

      If the ANC is incapable of choosing an honest and upright leader, then the Constitution needs to be amended to require extremely high standards for the office of President, no matter which party is in power. In no one’s book but the ANC’s could such a compromised man possibly be an eligible candidate in any normal society.

    • Peter L

      The ANC’s response to the damning KPMG forensic report is telling – no denial or dispute of any of the facts or findings, merely an assertion that “this is old news, and no new revelations or evidence / facts have been uncovered”.

      Ie “Listen lads – we have swwept that one under the carpet already – stop raking the muck, please”.

    • Chris C

      I stopped reading “Dave’s” drivel long ago, but unfortunately one picks up on the patheticness from other replies.

      Just ignore the bitter delusional in the corner. He even believes the “D” on his hat stands for Dave.

    • http://blogroid.wordpress.com Blogroid

      Good ole Provocateur Harris has caught you all again and again…

      Meanwhile i am confused about the theme. You started off about the alleged indolence season and then it zoomed ‘digression-ally’ in on bad JZ and all the growing wave of corruption that is allegedly besmirching the future.

      Regarding our ‘sudden’ indolence… First… I don’t know how old you are, or where you live. It must be that you are a “young pup” and you live out of Zone One … Gauteng… because you have morphed out of reality.

      For as long as memory serves the building and allied industries started shutting down in November and the region began to function again in late January… In fact a company of which i was a General Manager in Jozi in 1982, traditionally used January 21st as it start of business for the coming year… Traditionally because they had been in Business in Jozi since 1886… roughly the year the place came into existence [and coincidentally the same year Nietzsche made his now classic observation that “God was dead”…. how’s that for digression?]

      And talking of corruption it was in the late 19th century that a tender was awarded against all common reason and understanding [read fat bribe paid] to impose an unsuitable railway gauge system on the country… a decision that haunts us still.

      Hannah Arendt pointed out >50 years ago that we were a ‘rent seeking’ society… and we are still here… So what is new about the present clique?

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

      The interesting thing about Cele is that he’s got away with it, just as Zuma’s getting away with it and most of Zuma’s sacked Cabinet Ministers are getting away with it.

      Too many people pat themselves on the back because they read articles exposing corruption in the newspapers and conclude that they are standing up for righteousness. But meanwhile, the real situation is one of continuous coverup.

      Why, for instance, was the KPMG report kept under wraps during the run-up to Polokwane, during the disgraceful efforts by the judiciary and the media to protect Zuma.

    • Charlotte

      @ Free Speech/Democrat. You must one and the same: ‘Bile’, ‘lies’ & ‘propaganda’ appear in both comments, close together, and the subject of ‘freedom of speech’ is raised in both.
      However, ‘freedom of speech’ is not in dispute – (although one of the usual retorts from DD and T’fux when they cannot supply any logical defence.)
      Thought Leader gives these trolls all the f. of speech they require. (Referring to the Comment Guidelines, one wonders when their insulting racism becomes ‘hate speech’ and how blatant ‘lies and propaganda’ are persistently being allowed to be aired through these columns? Untruths are regarded as perjury in courts of law.) Added to which, nothing new is added to any debate except the same old cut & paste rot.
      But because they are trolls, their outrageous lies, diverts the topic. (Even now, we are talking about them, instead of the subject.)
      And although told to ’ignore them’, there still remains the risk of those who may take the trolls seriously – just as ANC loyalists swallow anything they are fed.
      Therefore, many readers feel it incumbent to set the record straight.
      …There may be a positive in this: Outraged repudiation of the falsehoods perpetuated by trolls, does bring out the truth.
      But to keep having the same lies thrust down one’s throat week after week, adding nothing new to the debate except to disrupt and divert it, becomes a boring, annoying and offensive time-waste.

    • Charlotte

      To add to what is foist upon us by trolls ‘given the freedom’ – not only of speech – but able to express and ram vitriolic mistruths and racist vituperation down our throats week after week, let us look at trolls DD Harris and Tofolux not only from the readers’ point of view….
      As far as the authors themselves are concerned, it is discourteous, disrespectful and damaging for them to be constantly and consistently bludgeoned by the same trolls with the same distortions, lies and insults.
      Points 2,6,7 and 8 in the Comment Guidelines are particularly relevant.

      Maybe this has something to do with the fact that – except for one brief reappearance -we do not hear any more from Michael Trapido (Traps) who was a regular contributor to Thought Leader.

      Even if the motive is for trolls to ‘stir it up, the trolls well-known to all of us, should not be accorded the space to express their same-old, same-old racist, anti-White invective. We’ve heard it again and again and again. Nothing new.
      How does it help to make this a better society?
      How do they insist that the ANC – which they so radically admire and protect – is supposed to be ‘non-racist – when they themsleves refute it at every turn?
      For non-racism, one must turn to the D.A.

    • Citizen Cane.

      Quoting from WSM: “ …. let’s take stock of 2012. This was another annus horribilis for President Jacob Zuma’s government, as it continues its slide into a morass of corruption. “

      I would say it was another annus horibilis for the country’s citizens as we watch Jacob Zuma and his political pirates riding unabated and unabashed on the wave of spoils they have stolen, misappropriated and misspent from the country’s coffers and swiped from the poor (who may still incomprehensibly be duped into voting for them again.)
      The follow-my-leader putrescence starts at the top. What kind of democracy is this? ANC political leaders physically fighting each other like thugs (not voting in any sort of orderly ‘democratic fashion) to decide whether JZ gets a second term as president or not … when what Zuma needs is a jail term.
      And what the country needs, is a change in government.

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

      Dear Charlotte,
      When will you realize that your childish name-calling and playing the man instead of the ball, is like peeing in the wind.

      We have free speech rights, thanks to the ANC insisting on it during our liberation negotiations, for the first time since colonialists arrived at our shores. So now, we have the same right as you to refute the misinformation regurgitated by William week after week on this forum. Deal with it!
      If you can’t handle the truth then by all means, you have the freedom to simply ignore our comments. As some famous American once said “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” 😉

    • Graham

      Oh dear Charlotte, you have made me agree with Dave…

      Even though you may not agree with his views, or those of Tofolux, everyone has the right to say/print what they want.

      I am sure William and Michael would be the last to suppress opposing views from these columns.

    • The Critical Cynic

      A bit like the saying “if the cap fits…” hey Dave! And when it comes to Jacob Zuma a variety of caps seem to sit very comfortably on his funny shaped head. The caps of corruption, ignorance, selfishness, lying, adultery, racist, and thief seem to many of the population to fit his head perfectly, yet some people have the cheek to point at others and accuse them of wearing rose-tinted glasses. Seems like a lot of ANC supporters are completely blind when it comes to seeing their leaders for who and what they really are… (probably true of any political party supporter tho’)

      Looks like the answer might lie in a civil war, or a meltdown of the western world system, after all…

    • Charlotte.

      Hi Graham, you have got me wrong. I am not knocking freedom of speech, nor trying to suppress opposing views.
      But there is a vast difference between viable substantiated argument and being bombarded with wild racist accusations and illogical, insulting assumptions and conclusions.
      The trolls stock response is simple; defend and deny their ludicrous deceptions and diatribes (citing their right to ‘freedom of speech) ’- then continuing with their same-old offensive tosh. (i.e. In the stifling amount of clichés DH uses in his last comment, he does just that: He justifies his racist boorishness by calling it ‘f.of speech’).
      These two trolls paint all whites, black – irrespective. Their Rabid Reverse Racism is indicative of the rotten party they defend and deify.

      Just as a government should be accountable (unlike the ANC) so has Thought leader a responsibility to keep within its guidelines. However, it appears that DH and T’flux are given licence to keep regurgitating their irrelevant, irreverent racist abuse – with the added interest of diverting the topic.
      Neither ever make a valid or original point backed by facts. They are insulting racist and disruptive, offensive and boring.

    • Charlotte.

      Actually Graham, I detect a hint of sexism in both your and DH’s comments …. Like ‘strong men don’t moan (it’s only women that whine)… and “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” etc.

      Do you know the description of the perfect woman? She is defined as “a lady in the lounge, a cook in the kitchen and a broad in the bedroom.” I have always somehow always got that wrong: more like ‘a cook in the bedroom, a broad in the lounge and lady in the kitchen … or something …’
      So in the holiday spirit, I say to you: “Eschew writers who use clichés and stock phrases; and particularly eschew those who judge others by racial stereotype.”
      And to Dave Harris I say: “Go boil your head. “

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

      Charlotte, I’m surprised at why you take such offence at our comments on William’s mean-spirited blogs that rabidly peddle propaganda by fabricating facts and figures. Furthermore, unlike you and William, neither Tofolux nor I are engaging in any name-calling or aggressive personal insults.

      Would you like us to stop commenting on William’s blogs?
      Would you prefer that we not comment at all on Thoughtleader?
      Would you like us to seek your permission on what to say and what not to?
      Please help us understand!

    • Charlotte

      To end the topic on a sour note, how I loathe foulmouthed troll-bullies who cry foul as soon as they are confronted – and still look for sympathy (like their Zuma- masser) afterwards.

    • Graham

      Wow, sexism? All I did was defend free speech rights and you claim I am a chauvinist? Nice.

    • Charlotte

      @Graham … Man, I was only trying to introduce a lighter touch.
      Obviously, in your eyes, all I managed to do was to be trying.
      ” Hi Graham, you have got me wrong. I am not knocking freedom of speech, nor trying to suppress opposing views.”

      Having said that, I will use my freedom of speech to wish you a light and bright holiday season and all the best.

    • Marie

      It all starts at No. 1