Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

The week kicked off with news dominated by attacks on Cyril from members in his own cabinet. Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma have not missed an opportunity to publicly criticise Cyril for his weakness as a leader and anything else they could label him with. The Phala Phala farm episode has given them an easy platform to have sharp digs at him and Dlamini-Zuma called for him to step aside.

This afternoon (Thursday) the parliamentary select committee was to hand down its decision on whether the President is guilty of misconduct or worse in regard to the theft of dollars from his farm. The three judges have asked for an extension until the end of the month and that has been granted. 

The fact that the ANC NEC held an imbizo this past weekend gave those two ladies and other leader-hopefuls a perfect platform to make a case for their own elevation to the top job at the election conference which will take place for 5 days at Nasrec in less than a month’s time. What is interesting is how the Presidential spokesperson in his press release on Sunday evening congratulated the NEC for the warmth and close cooperation exhibited at the imbizo.  Does he not know of the divisions in the Party? Is he not aware of the race for leadership? Was he even at the imbizo?

Despite the weekend rain and poor weather conditions in Johannesburg, almost to be expected Carl Niehaus, Jacob Zuma’s trumpeter, stood outside the Nasrec Centre where the top ANC delegates met. Niehaus carried a slogan board calling for Ramaphosa to go. Of course his photo made the press; that’s why the egoist stood there in the rain. What a mampara!

Along with the ladies mentioned above it seems as if Thabo Mbeki also would like the top ANC job again. He has been more and more vocal recently and he too seems to be challenging. At 80 both he and Accused No 1 believe they still have enough in them to run the Party.

Most political analysts believe that pitching Cyril out at this stage is simply too dangerous for the ANC with the next General Election coming in 2024.  The consensus is that without Cyril the ANC has no chance of maintaining its majority position.  And it does look as if CR will indeed survive quite easily as leader next month–if the Phala Phala report exonerates him. What is extremely disappointing is the uninspiring bunch of members Cyril has chosen to run with him as a team in the “top six”.   

You are no doubt aware that Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the suspended Public Protector is facing a Parliamentary Committee looking into her fitness to hold office. You will probably therefore not be surprised to learn that two judgements in two successive days went against her.  On Friday the judgement against Mkhwebane was in the case where she had appealed a judgement barring her from returning to work. In this matter her own Office of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) did not attempt to defend her. This case had been dragging on for some time and the court ordered that all Mkhwebane’s findings and remedial actions were unlawful, invalid and must be set aside. Mkhwebane, not for the first time in a judgement against her, was ordered to personally pay the costs of the applicant, including the costs of two counsels. 

That ruling came a day after the Constitutional Court ‘banged the last nail in the coffin’ of her infamous and discredited report into the SARS’s (our Revenue Service)“rogue unit”. Here also the Concourt dismissed suspended Mkhwebane’s application for leave to appeal. 

Her term of office ends in October 2023 and she and her counsel, Dali Mpofu are pulling every trick in the book to stall proceedings as much as possible so that this enquiry runs past that date and she will then be entitled to continue living the life of Riley on tax-payers’ money on full pay. Her Stalingrad tactics are well learnt from the man who appointed her, Jacob Zuma who uses the same legal angle…….but her tactics are so transparent that the courts are getting peeved with all the delays and I expect them pretty soon to say ‘enough is enough’. This cartoon from quite a little while ago by Dr Jack sums up Mkhwebane’s term in office perfectly:

The Financial Mail on its cover has a cartoon of our Police Minister made up like a clown. The FM like many newspapers refers to Bheki Cele as the cat in a hat. He really does seem to have 9 lives. But he is not a clown, he is not funny and the reality is that it is our police who are a joke under Bheki Cele.  On that tack, Jacques Pauw has a brand new book out and it was reviewed in several weekend papers. Titled Our Poisoned Land, it is a sequel to Pauw’s previous best seller, The President’s Keepers. In this book Pauw attacks Cele and it is abundantly clear that Cele had a hand in the re-renting of Police Headquarters in Pretoria and Durban at three times the going rental rate. For that Zuma(!) fired him. But he is a KZN Zulu and he brings a lot of the province support with him and he is a Cyril man and Cyril needs him and so Cyril made him his Police minister. But now the cat’s lives may be running out. This week the Hawks (a dept under Cele’s own ministerial control!!) let it be known that they are investigating Cele’s part in the multi-million Rand contracts for the Police headquarters. And so we go around in circles.

Pauw’s book has also stood heavily on Julius Malema’s toes. The allegations made against JM and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu have caused them to demand that the allegations get immediately withdrawn and that the book be removed from the shelves of booksellers. If this is not carried out they intend to take legal action. This story could explode….so watch this space.

You won’t believe this next story.  In Mbombela (Nelspruit to you) the driving instructors went on strike and closed the office of the traffic dept in protest. Their gripe? The municipal traffic officials are hiking up the bribe pay by R300 for each licence that they issue.  Crime here is just so out of hand and so very visible. Oh, the MEC is going to meet the striking workers to see if he can resolve matters. That beggars belief.

If you think SAA is not safe to fly with any longe don’t even board a plane on the runway on its way to a hangar. This weekend two planes were on the runway at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg. It was the SAA jet that was on the move, with the FlySafair plane stationary when the crash occurred. Investigators are yet to fully determine what actually caused the collision, but it’s thought a ‘broken towbar’ is largely to blame. Or was it, as was first reported, a sleeping engineer on board?

SAA is probably not going to make it through Business Rescue. It’s taking too long and too many things are going wrong and on Thursday one of the key players in the take-over bid, Gidon Novik, resigned his directoship in the “partner” company.

But the good news is that twice-daily flights with BA will begin next Sunday between Cape Town and Heathrow.  Airbus A350-1000 services have already been launched on the route, and with the regular Boeings will be serving the busy direct London route. On Tuesday I had a truly memorable coffee catch-up. Mike and I go back a long way. We played in the same cricket team more than a generation ago season after season for almost 10 years at Green Point. I bowled, he batted and one day against Marist he took a magnificent reflex catch off my bowling at first slip. I have spoken about that catch before. But we go back even further than that; Michael was born in Stellenboch. He and Yvonne have been in Melbourne for nearly 40 years and we had a lot of catching up to get through and very many stories to share. What a wonderful experience! It’s contacts like these that– according to the experts– not only help stave off dementia but are what makes life so worth while. That’s us: Mike, Yvonne and me.

The weekend, as far as the coach and I were concerned, was nail-biting. Spurs were behind Leeds 3 times in their match on Saturday evening. Eventually when the final whistle blew it was Spurs 4–Leeds 3. Phew! 

Then, the rugby–agaist France. What a game! It was worth getting to bed well after midnight to have watched one of the most exciting games we have seen in years. The Springboks were pipped in the final minutes but that doesn’t matter. The whole game had so much in it that a whole chapter could be devoted to it. Our tactics were better. Our team selection is still a bit questionable but there is a great improvement in our game and the World Cup is just around the corner. Don’t write the Springboks off to retain their title!

As always,                                                                                            


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