Llewellyn Kriel
Llewellyn Kriel

Hey, Zuma, you can’t buy your way out of this one, old chap

Almost from the moment the rag-tag gaggle of erstwhile freedom fighters took over the reins of power — and, boy, did they love that power, like a kid who had just got his driver’s licence and was put behind the wheel of a Ferrari — they realised that, even under someone of the statesmanship and stature of Nelson Mandela, they would be incapable of running South Africa without their hands being held all the way by the private sector.

That’s fair enough — and not uncommon among countries emerging from autocratic rule. Fundamentally, it’s a great idea and has worked well in most other circumstances. Not in SA though. That’s not because of the idea, but because of the mindset of dependence and the gimme-gimme culture it has bred.

Along with a small number of people involved in the hand-holding processes — I was communication director for Business Against Crime which was born precisely of a cry for help from none other than Mandela himself in 1996 — we warned against government shirking its responsibilities, leaving all the hard work to the private sector and claiming all the kudos for the work of others when it came to election time and posturing on the platforms of propagandist popularity.

The fact that this has happened with unabashed brazen ballsiness not only proves the point, but has become a culture that believes freebies are the deserved right of everyone with the slightest smidgeon of power, from crooked cops and dirty directors through miscreant mayors and perverted premiers up the scruffy echelons of our kakistocracy to the likes of Julius Malema, Jimmy Manyi, Nathi Mthethwa, Angie Motshekga, Gwede Mantashe, Ibrahim Patel, Blade Nzimande and even, sadly, Trevor Manuel (who everyone, myself included, thought was made of moral fibre and not the mobster mutton cloth his cadres find so fashionable). That these levels of ethical and moral pollution reside so comfortably with Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma comes as no surprise.

Little wonder then that South Africa’s image has nosedived, both domestically and globally, to the depths of ranking the country 30th out of 34 least well run, and that its own citizenry are so pessimistic about it they rank it 32nd out 33 countries they’d like to be seen as.

No one whose eyes have been open for the past 15 years is in the least surprised the German soccer bosses have recommended their players wear “protective clothing” (bullet-proof vest) when away from their hotels during next year’s Soccer World Cup. What is surprising is the outrage with which this news has been greeted. If ever there was a sign of how inured, thick-skinned and arrogant we’ve become, that is it! It’s because our rulers have created such a bad impression across the world, have fostered criminality and vile entitlement at home, allowed justice to decay, wiped their feet on the Constitution, sung songs of love to automatic weapons, abused their positions of authority and respect and wasted billions of our tax rands, that a judge in Canada can quite readily believe the crap that Brandon Huntley argued. Have you ever attended a golf day organised by our embassy in Washington DC? No, probably not. Otherwise you would have been among the dozens of invited expat South Africans who left ashamed and embarrassed by the conduct and buffoonery of our own ambassadorial reps.

We who are genuinely concerned about where this magnificent country and its awesome people are being dragged by the lowlifes in power, share the feelings expressed below. We too are gatvol — have been for more years than we care to remember, have given and given and given for free to try to put right what has been made so wrong for so long, have preached positivism and cooperation and conciliation and upliftment and development and every other form of doing right and good. We too, white, black (and every shade between), old, young, ill, healthy, rich and (mostly) poor are GATVOL. And we share the setiments so poignantly, eloquently and damningly expressed below.

This is an excerpt from the latest newsletter of the South African Institute of Corporate Fraud Management, the country’s foremost private-sector body fighting corruption in business and industry in SA. Not only has this organisation been more successful in its field than any other group (or groups) of companies, but the SAICFM is recognised internationally as one of the most courageous and outspoken campaigners against corporate fraud. It is also the official research partner of the African Union, the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

The following was written last week, before the publication of the damning findings of the New York-based Reputation Institution on perceptions of SA, by the Institute’s president Bart Henderson, one of a handful of people in SA who can really be described as “brave”.

“Have a nice day. I simply cannot express the intensity with which I am clenching my teeth or the level of absolute aggravation and total frustration that I’m feeling.

“Firstly for some peculiar reason, post my last mail, I have found an increase in subscribers despite my stated intent to shut down on 31 December 2009 and requesting each and every one of you to click “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of this page.

“Those that don’t I stated I would migrate to my personal email database.

“For clarity purposes let me put this as bluntly as possible without losing composure or resorting to expletives.

“I am 100% completely, utterly, totally gatvol.

“I do not under any circumstances wish to engage on the subject of fraud, bribery and corruption in this country.

“I have spent 20 years in this business and travelled the world. There is not a single man, woman or child, in this country, that has PRODUCED more work than me in the field of either research or study or handled as many pro bono cases!

“I don’t have to listen to the horseshit being bandied about anymore, the never ending drivel that constitutes the never ending discourse on the subject of crime in this country.

“I am absolutely gatvol at the manner in which patently and blatantly vrot officials continue to enjoy the luxury of lying openly in my face and not even my face, sommer to the whole world with absolutely no shame!

“I am sick and tired of the waste, the greed, the arrogance and the self serving supercilious bullshit that is spewed on a daily basis.

“I am tired of the betrayal of our constitution, I am tired of the plunder of state resources, I am sick and tired of listening to people bitch about fraud and corruption and the state of government and society and this and that while they go home and sit at the tables of the very people who commit the acts against us!

“I am sick of watching the country disintegrate into a cesspool while people whinge about how THEY should be doing something about it and yet the masses do absolutely nothing.

“Who is they?

“Whose job is it anyway? While everyone is so busy worrying about the cellphone companies and their damned rates do you know that these same companies are responsible directly for people being murdered in their homes?

“Do you know that the cellphone companies are directly responsible for failing to provide the police with data that would allow the police to catch virtually every syndicate operating in this country?

“Not because the data is protected, personal information but because it’s inconvenient! Because as far as the cellphone companies are concerned if the police ask for the data in a specified format in the cellphone company’s opinion this constitutes a “fishing” expedition?

“That’s right; people are dying because the cellphone companies have decided it’s too inconvenient to produce data upon request?

“Not information about who owns a phone but simply where a particular phone with a particular signature might be at the time of a crime and after the crime was committed.

“That’s all!

“Do you people have any idea how frustrating it is to know this as a fact?

“And in the meantime I have this bureaucrat that is playing God and Russian roulette with people and police officers lives buying crap and selling it off as crime intelligence, software technology, hardware etc.etc.etc

“The SAPS have the technology to interrogate vast data stores but this mullet’s wife, his boss won’t plug it in?

“Speaking of which, where is the lease for the Crime Intelligence building? Who actually owns that building? When you answer these questions and find the culprit ask them to send a plumber and maintenance people. For a new building that one seems to have sprung more than a few leaks.

“Ja Director Willie Meyer, I’m talking to you!

“How much money have you spent over the years?

“How much more do you need and how much longer do you need?

“Your rubbish has held an entire force captive!

“How much of the inability of the SAPS to do their job stops with you?

“How many police officers have walked into ambushes or into a trap because you will not even look at alternative solutions that may, just may improve your crime intelligence capabilities?

“How many policemen must look into the faces of families torn by grief and not have an answer because the state of the SAPS IT, data, dockets, case management, profiles, intelligence, hell photocopiers never mind PC’s in every station after all these years is kak? And you and your ilk won’t answer a few questions but elect to send me lawyer’s letters to sue me?

“I can’t wait!

“I can’t wait because my friend if you want to test my theories in open court I am going to pull every tender, every crime stat, every dead cop incident, every murdered citizen I can find and do my damndest to drape your frame in shame!

“I hope in deepest sincerity that the Hawks do you!

“I will repeat this for you and Inkanyiso’s benefit that every Red Flag indicator of conflict of interest, lack of oversight and due diligence exists in the constitution and trade of that company.

“Anyone in Commercial Crime in the SAPS will recognise exactly what I do!

“All you had to do was answer the questions put to you by the journalist which you have still not done!

“Had you responded with a reasonable explanation there would have been no story?

“The fact that you didn’t, haven’t but instead chosen to threaten me tells me that you have something to answer to!

“You may be a cop but you wouldn’t know what being a cop is if it bit you on the arse. If you’re a crime fighter these criminals have klapped you bloedbek man.

“Sue me? You and Inkanyiso? Hell I’ve been close to totally broke with all the pro bono work and since another quagga came along called Manyatshe.

“Help yourself.

“Let me tell you how this is going to work, I publish every letter your lawyers send me and respond publicly to every letter you send me get the picture?

“Who the hell do you think you are?

“Answer the damn questions man!

“Then there is this bunch at Sita.

“You have a report that states categorically that there is R355-million in duplicate payments over a period of four years and you have said nothing about this single fact.

“You have 613 pages of exceptions providing you with a roadmap on what to fix and where to fix it and instead you bitch about process?

“That is all that has come out of that Board.

“You couldn’t care less that your incompetence has frustrated almost every Government Agency that has to deal with you?

“You couldn’t care less that you preside over an organisation that in the vast majority of decent hard working employees with the obvious exception of the varke that are getting their bit on the side have to go to work and live on a daily basis with the kak you spew out?

“They are the ones that have to deal with the customers, they are the ones who have to do the hard work and watch it unravel with your constant interference and meddling and complaining about what they’re doing wrong with just about everything that they do, do?

“You wonder where the skills are, you wonder where the institutional memory is, you wonder where the knowledge and experience is?

“Your reputation is in tatters and you scrounge around in the dirt trying to find every reason to deflect attention from your absolute incompetence and try lay blame on everyone else except yourselves?

“Read my lips, I quit.

“If Egshaan Khan believes he frustrated us by giving us the data in a format we couldn’t use he’s wrong.

“I don’t bluff.

“What you have done is make me work for months to do my job.

“My 36 gigabytes of your Head Office email communication tells me that you are the most useless bunch of shits feeding at a trough to sit on a board.

“That you are vindictive, that you are self serving, that you are arrogant and above all that you are plain incompetent!

“I am so tempted I have to fight to stop myself from publishing emails one mail at a time and would without second thought if it wasn’t for the fact that there are hundreds of employees, ordinary people who simply don’t deserve the rubbish you’re dishing up.

“I know exactly which suppliers you’ve screwed.

“I am more a patriot and citizen of this country than any single one of you fat cats!

“You are without exception traitors to the ideals of this country.

“Corruption, people, isn’t some abstract concept that gets discussed around a coffee table! It has a face, it has a nature, it has a pattern, it has a modus operandi as old as the bible and direct consequences.


“Without me holding your hand that young turk Mampeule would have torn you to pieces.

“You sat there like a deer in headlamps without a clue what to do next.

“You know that, your wife knows that and the whole damned world knows that.

“What deals were you doing at MTN when you were forced to leave? I warned you in the beginning, don’t lie to me and don’t betray me.

“You have done both!

“What you and this bunch don’t get is that I don’t care what you do or don’t do.

“I care more about the people whose faces I look into every day by a long shot. So let the dice fall where they may.

“The day I shut up for the likes of you bunch hell will first freeze over!

“I’m sick of the likes of you and what you represent.

“Now if anyone reading this doesn’t like my tone or what I say or how I say it, this is a private forum, a rather large one granted… I pay for this damn service.”

WOW! Little wonder perceptions about this country are as bad as they are. Little wonder soccer players are advised to wear bullet-proof vests. Little wonder a Canadian judge and authority on immigration can readily believe the “evidence” of an irrigation salesman and grant him refugee status in that country. Little wonder 90% of people in three separate online polls recently overwhelmingly said they “do not trust the government under President Jacob Zuma”.

Money and power can — and do — usually buy most things. Not just in SA, but everywhere. Hence the adage about fooling some of the people some of the time, but … But you can’t buy your way out of these perception, Jacob, old chap. Not you nor any of your comrades. Aspirant woodworkers or failed spin doctors or whatever other party-throwers and hotel-goers and sycophants and rent-a-crowds applaud so avidly and so precisely on cue.