Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

Tottenham Hotspur.

Very often, OK nearly always, I end these newsletters mentioning the Spurs’ results but never have I started with a Spurs story. 

The English Premiership football team which the coach (Clive) and I support so blindly has been the top news item here for this whole week and it has all to do with a leaked document indicating that our Tourism Department is/was about to spend almost R1billion on advertising SA on the Tottenham match shirts and at their stadium.

Radio, press and TV (even CNN—thanks, Theo and BBC—thanks Jon) have had a field time reporting on this story and analysing whether it is not simply ‘another ANC deal’ with a hidden kick-back and whether this is nothing more than yet another total waste of our money. The acting CEO of the Tourism Dept —he is also a Pastor—when interviewed defended the deal resolutely by pointing out that Rwanda advertise on the Arsenal match shirts and their tourism has increased by about 26% since that sponsorship. Our tourism here will benefit significantly, said the CEO who added that it is a sure way to create jobs in the tourism industry which are so desperately needed. He pointed out that Spurs will have training camps in SA and that there would be “freebies” to watch games, etc.

The CEO believes that partnering with Spurs will give a guaranteed return for his Dept.

It is said that all publicity is good publicity so I suppose this could be good for our team. But certainly not all the responses have been positive; for example high profile people like Adv Paul Hoffman SC slated the deal as a total waste of money when there are so many uses that a billion Rand could be better used for. 

Now with all this publicity there is surely not a single person in this country who does not know about Tottenham and that they are an English football team. And I even learned that the coach and I aren’t the only ardent SA fans. It was reported that the townships are jam-packed full of Spurs fans. What didn’t surprise, as the story developed was that backhanders and “benefits” would most likely be part of the deal.

One must ask, can no deal, good or bad get done in this country without bribes being sought and bought?  

It is interesting to observe that throughout this rumpus which has now stretched a very full week, the Min of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu has been almost totally absent. Hopefully she will be even more permanently absent after SONA. As you can imagine there have been some classical cartoons on this affair. I liked this one from Brandan in Business Day on Monday;  soccer fans will identify with this:

For several weeks we have been waiting for the President to make changes to his cabinet. DD Mabuza resigned and then was told to stay on as Deputy President until Cyril was ready and one or two Ministers like Fikile Mbalula have gone to other portfolios, so cabinet changes are very necessary.    Tonight, Thursday evening Cyril will be making his SONA (State of the Nation address) at the opening of a new parliamentary year and it is now expected that it is then that he will announce cabinet changes….but don’t hold your breath……. Cabinet changes are desperately needed to get the country back on track but with Ramaphosa the announcement is not a given. He may still need even more time to consider his options and in the meantime some big-wigs in the Party are worrying that they may soon have to drive their own motor cars again.

Interesting, is it not, that Parliament will be opened again in the Cape Town city hall and not in the houses of parliament. There is money for everything but not for fixing the parliamentary precinct that was burnt down more than a year ago. But hey, you all know that the ANC can fix nothing!

One of the main points of interest in Cyril’s upcoming SONA address is whether he is going to impose a State of Disaster to handle the electricity crisis. It is now more than 100 consecutive days that we have had power outages.

You can only imagine what this does to especially small businesses. De Ruyter who only leaves Eskom at the end of next month says that the outlook for the rest of the year is glum…

And it is hoped that the President will say something in his SONA about the ongoing plundering of municipalities by cadres whose interests are simply personal.

Something must be done!

The downward slide of the country is so obvious that it would be totally criminal to ignore it. 

Cyril has a lot on his plate. This was Zapiro’s take in Daily Maverick yesterday on the possible cabinet changes.

Eskom is of course looking for a new CEO. The adverts are out and the sought after individual will have to have all the boxes ticked to get the job. But who will want it? The new person will definitely have to have a taster to taste all his/her coffee if he/she becomes MD for fear of being poisoned at work as was de Ruyter. You will not be surprised to learn that nobody, but nobody has been arrested after that poisoning.

A serious matter is the likelihood of our being “grey listed” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In spite of rushed legislation having been passed at the end of last year the government is sitting on tenterhooks awaiting the results which are due at the end of this month. 

What is becoming more and  more noticeable at our robots (traffic lights, to you) is how many white beggars there are on the streets begging. 

We have become used to the usual characters (coloured and black, young and old) at all the busy stops but I had an interesting experience this week when I engaged with one elderly fellow at the big 4-way stop near our new retirement village. I was first at the stop as the light turned red and it’s a longish stop so when I gave this fellow something I engaged with him by asking where he came from. He told me he came from Mpumalanga where he was a handlanger (handy man) on building sites. But there is no more building there, he said. He now lives in the “tent community”, right opposite our police station, that suddenly sprang up during Covid. He told me he lives in a tent with another beggar (also white) whom he pointed out was begging at the other side of the crossing. I asked him if there were more whites there because I often drive passed the rows of tents and have seen only people of colour. He told me that there are altogether 12 whites in these tents on the grass opposite the police station. I would have liked to ask him about ablution etc but the lights changed. 

This, sadly is now becoming a face of SA.

It’s summer and it’s holiday season and some of my “old” friends are back for their regular break in our gorgeous city and so I have had catch-ups with Michael & Ilana from Beverly Hills at the spectacular Glen in Constantia -where I sat talking to Steve of Cotton Traders (but he is  even more famous as an England rugby captain in the 70’s) and his Manchester neighbour Bob with their spouses.

The world champion (Esther) was with us and couldn’t stop marvelling at the view of the valley and she really enjoyed being out with such lovely people at such a lovely venue. Hopefully we will see more of Michael & Ilana before they return to America. Yes, they are ex-pats.

Then on Monday it was catch-up time with a good old bridge buddy of mine whom I hadn’t seen for years. Malcolm and I spoke very little bridge but much more about family matters etc. After that it was straight into Sea Point to meet for the first time legal academic Keith who has been on the mailing list for a long time and has sent me some intriguing articles. What an interesting story he tells. Growing up in Oudtshoorn and all his turns until taking a law doctorate in Leyden and lecturing in America. 

SA is becoming more & more anti-semitic and the government not only allows it, but encourages it. The South African Rugby board has withdrawn an invitation to an Israeli rugby team to play here in a new club competition, Masanzi Challenge. “It is appalling that the SA Rugby governing body has caved in to the Palestinian support-group,  BDS movement without a fight, notwithstanding that Israel is a fully fledged member of World Rugby and the IOC”. After Israelis are banned from competing how long before the English (who colonised SA and took all the wealth) are banned? 

The Stormers had a big win over the Sharks on the weekend but did you hear about Spurs beating Man City! What a tight match but the single Harry Kane goal was enough. Yippee!


As always,                                                                                              


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