Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

The embarrassing incompetence of the SA Civil Service was glaringly exposed on the weekend for the whole world to see. Our President had gathered some African leaders together to fly with him to the Ukraine and then Russia to talk with Zelensky and Putin about ending the war.  Unfortunately both Zelensky & Putin made it quite clear that from this trip nothing will happen and it seems that the whole trip was but a waste of time and money and not the good publicity Cyril was hoping for.

The shambolic effect of our authorities’ capabilities left the aircraft carrying the President’s security entourage of more than 100 personnel stranded on the runway in Warsaw without food or water for almost 26 hours. There were also several senior journalists on the plane and they were also precluded from accompanying Cyril to Kiev or Moscow. You will have gathered that this story from last weekend highlights the unbelievable lack of competence, compliance and planning of our authorities. Cadres in action; what mamparas!

Also on board the grounded SAA aircraft was a cache of undeclared illegal arms and since the Polish officials weren’t prepared to accept bribes, the aircraft with our generals and top officials, all part of Ramaphosa’s security entourage simply remained where it was on the runway. This while Cyril on the earlier flight went ahead and met with the leaders on his own without any of his posse to look after his safety.

That aircraft, stranded where it landed for 26 hours, had a number of  journalists on board who were escorted to a hotel some hours later for the night and they were all told to ‘voetsek’ home the very next day. So Cyril’s train ride to Kiev and flight to Moscow went without “handlangers” to look after him. That lurk cost us tax-payers about R15 million. What a disgraceful waste of money. The number of Zambian security officers with the correct papers who accompanied their President was 12.

Oh, there is more……Matters were already bad when the President’s plane had to circle Italy three times because someone had forgotten to apply for air clearance on its way for the landing in Warsaw. Then as if to make a point Russia targeted Kiev with rockets almost at the very moment that Ramaphosa arrived in the Ukraine capital. The Presidential spokesman, however, said he heard no explosions. Everybody, including CNN journalists heard and reported on those explosions where four civilians were injured and the Ukranians used American anti-rocket devices to shield their city. We now know that the Presidential spokesman is not only stupid he is also deaf.

Die Burger newspaper on Tuesday called the whole exercise a disaster and wrote that a pro-Russian vest was showing out out under Ramaphosa’s clothes and was quite visible. Except they called it a slip that was showing, not a vest.

As you may have gathered the whole episode was indeed a total waste of time and waste of resources and if the Sunday Times were to ask me for my suggestion for the Mampara of the Week, this week I would choose Cyril Ramaposha—yet again. Brandan showed even the dove of peace hiding its head in shame in Tuesday’s Business Day

What is of concern is that Ramaphosa believes that the trip was a success.  Meeting with the Dutch and Danish Prime Ministers on Tuesday he actually said so. I was also Adv Paul Hoffman’s view, he of Accountability Now, and he indicated that some good may well come from this start. He is more optimistic than I am and stresses that jaw, jaw is better than war, war.

Our new Deputy President may be nearer the highest office in the land than even he realises. That more and more are less and less enamoured with Ramaphosa is apparent and Paul Mashatile has been doing the rounds. Last week he spoke at a dinner of 100 top business guests. He has also spoken to Ninety-One clients (the old Investec investment org) and to retirement fund trustees. These meetings were summarised by Carol Paton of News24 and she is not overly impressed. Whereas his speeches were well prepared though thin on detail, his ability to answer questions left much to be desired and his ideas about solutions were negligible.

 Paton also points out that Mashatile is closer to the EFF than the DA in counsils where there are coalitions and there is also the rumour of his being “close” to dodgy elements.

Generally the whole Mashatile ‘thing’, like the ANC ‘thing’ is worrisome

South Africans are hurting. Retail sales in SA have declined for the fifth consecutive month and the Reserve Bank’s six-month indicator that measures economic performance has slumped for every month this year.

Consumers are feeling the impact of the higher inflation as well as the higher interest rates. Salaries have also shrunk again and the steep increase in the electricity price is hurting badly. 

I have mentioned before that frequently I get criticised for being too negative with these weekly news updates. But to those critics and indeed to all of you I ask please read both or either of these two well publicised letters doing the rounds this week. The first is to President Ramaphosa and was featured in the Daily Maverick early this week: click on this link:

The second was in News24:

Rob Rose, editor of Financial Mail, this week highlights how young educated kids are leaving SA for greener pastures. The figures are stark and the reasons mentioned in recent reports have confirmed what many suspected: South Africa’s dicey economic prospects, blackouts and the prospect of water shortages have combined to push people to the exit. Crime and corruption also play a large part in the emigration of (mostly) educated high nett worth individuals.

Here in the Western Cape the cold weather continues but the heavy rains and strong winds of the last few weeks seem to have abated (at least for now). The damage and devastation left by the unusual flooding is heartbreaking especially to those in the informal townships and too many roads have been damaged badly. Some of those worst affected are in the townships and many have had to be moved into (church) halls as a temporary relief plan. As usual, the charity organisation, Gift of the Givers, headed up by Dr Imtiaz Sooliman does everything it can to bring relief to the needy. 

I don’t often even bother to pick up a Cape Times to scan through it, but yesterday having coffee with the coach someone had left their copy on the counter of the coffee shop. I found this cartoon by Mangena. And in the Cape Times, nogal. Need I say more?

The “upside” of all the rain we have had here is that all our storage dams are full to the brim. I am not sure if ever before they have been quite this full. Some are even reported to be well over 100% full.

I missed the last lecture at the CT Press Club but the usual suspects got together yesterday to listen to Prof Jonathan Jansen talking about the problems at S Africa’s institutions of higher learning. We had had a couple of “guests” at our table with us this time, Mike joined us at the behest of Dennis, that character of note and Ian a colleague of Kenny was also with Robin, Henry and me.

The Prof is eloquent, experienced and calls a spade a spade. And unfortunately our universities are as crooked and corrupt as our State Owned Enterprises. I left the lecture depressed.  

There are still some shining lights to give us hope, though.

On Thursday, T4 Education, in partnership with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express, revealed their 2023 top contenders for schools.  Rondebosch-based Rustenburg Girls’ High and Johannesburg-based Spark Soweto Kindergarten and Primary have earned places in the 2023 Top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prize.

As always,


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