Gerald Potash

Hello again,

Thursday evening saw President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his SONA (State of the Nation Address). The venue was Cape Town’s classically beautiful City Hall, because the Houses of Parliament are rubble after the fire and will be out of commission for years and years. Cyril waffled for nearly two hours and said lots; lots of things that he has said before. He even said nice things like corruption must stop and people will be made to pay back what they had stolen. He said that private business must join with government to reactivate the economy! He spoke about Eskom which will be broken up and we will be able to buy power from private operators. But what will come of any of what he said? Everything he said on Thursday evening he had said before and absolutely nothing ever gets done. He even said that red-tape must be radically reduced and then in his ridiculously bloated cabinet he created a new department to look after red-tape!! We don’t need words from the President, we need implementation. Two years ago during a SONA address he promised us a new “smart city” and bullet trains..………

This is David & Hermann’s cartoon from The Daily Friend which with apologies to Shultz (and Charlie Brown) which really sums up Cyril’s SONA exactly:

Cyril said nothing about the xenophobia sweeping the country or the race-hate that goes with it. 

With crime rampant Ramaphosa admitted that the government needs help. He said the government gratefully acknowledged the offer of support from the private sector to assist in providing government with skills needed to investigate and prosecute crime. But this needs transparent management or it could turn out disastrously. 

There have been many responses to the SONA. Every newspaper and TV station has made comment but nothing comes close to the scathing summation in City Press this past Sunday where Mondli Makanya, the editor, sails into the ineffectual Ramaphosa like I have never seen before.

Makanya writes that Ramaphosa is an imposter and merely gives the impression of being in charge. This country is not run by the woefully weak Ramaphosa but by the Party and Ramaphosa is always prepared to bow to consensus however nefarious that may be. A stark case in point is that his taped speech now being investigated by SCOPA—the standing committee on public accounts—where Ramaphosa is heard to be condoning use of public funds for ANC activities. This does not make him a leader, it makes a follower. Makanya calls him the nonexistent President.

John Steenhuisen, DA Party leader was at his best on Monday in his response to SONA when he tabled a motion of no confidence in Ramaphosa’s cabinet “ of crooks and free-loaders” who, he said, would not be able to land a job in private enterprise because of their incompetence. And I don’t often agree with Julius Malema but his response to SONA was that South Africa has gone from bad to worse under Ramaphosa.

There are strongly differing opinions whether Cyril will be re-elected as Party leader at the Party  conference at the ANC’s National Conference at the end of this year. Some believe that the left-wing of the ANC with the RET-faction would like him gone and there is a strong move by the KZN faction to get the former Health Minister, Zweli Mkize elected to lead the party. 

Mkize was made to step-aside last year when a dubious contract of R150 million for Digital Vibes was awarded to two close pals, both of whom originally (before they became rich?) worked for (and with?) him in the Dept of Health.

Almost every week we read about big-shots in the ANC who are getting (or got) “kick-backs”. Some of us call those kick-backs bribes.

This week Scorpio, the investigative journalism group, uncovered kick-backs in the millions given to Zweli Mkize, when he was Sec-General of the ANC. He bought a luxury town-house for cash; the cash that suddenly appeared in his bank account after his buddy was paid a huge fee for “advising” on a PIC (Public Investment Corporation—the asset manager of the government) tender.

Mkize clearly sees no wrong in any of this and he is trying to get the Digital Vibes matter withdrawn. After all….….what did He do?

Yet another judgement went against Accused No 1 yesterday. He tried hard to get rid of Billy Downer as the chief prosecutor in his upcoming Arms Deal corruption trial, but the judge ruled that his arguments were frivolous. The Judge was quite clear that if Accused No 1 wants to appeal again then he can, but only after the trial which has been set-down to start on April, 11.

What is the bet that Accused No 1 does not show on that date?

Oh, he will be sick with a Drs note, for sure or he will fall on a banana peel and hurt himself or something that will keep him from showing up. So I am not holding my breath, I know his Stalingrad tactics too well.

Also making news here this week is that Arthur Fraser, the disgraced spy boss who deliberately and illegally let Zuma out of jail only to have that decision of his overturned by our courts, is suing journalist Jacques Pauw for R35 million for what he wrote in is book “The Presidents’ Keepers”. It has taken Fraser almost 3 years to get around to suing Pauw; the book came out in 2019, but it is expected that the 3rd part of the Zondo Commission report will have a lot more on the illegal activities of Fraser while he was head of our State Security Agency (SSA). 

There was a loud call to Ramaphosa, when he took over from Accused No 1, to fire Arthur Fraser but all he did was move him to head up the prisons. As I have said before, Ramaphosa is a wuss.

Shamila Batohi (head of the NPA) came to Parliament this week to explain why prosecutions are taking so long. One of the reasons she explained was that her authority is terribly understaffed. She says she needs an extra 80 prosecutors to get on top of their work load. Thank you Mr Zuma, for this state of affairs. She also needs money and is more than happy to accept help from the private sector, which is apparently now coming.

Batohi does agree with Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now, that we need an independent investigative unit like we had in the Scorpions, (which Accused No 1 got rid of as soon as he took over)  to assist in prosecuting delinquent beneficiaries of corruption. This is how Zapiro sees the NPA, from Daily Maverick :

Some good news is that Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni municipalities (now run by opposition coalitions) are beginning to fix the myriad of potholes left by the previous administrations. Johannesburg even has a ‘Pothole parade’ that self fills where absolutely necessary. This will make a big difference to these towns where a general clean-up of the city-centres has begun and it points a finger at the useless ANC councils that operated the cities previously.

Some further good news was that the new Tswane coalition municipal council cut-off electricity supply to errant entities last week. Government buildings, the posh 5 *Sheraton Hotel and several other downtown sites including embassies and a shopping centre were disconnected for 17 hours from power because they are badly in arrears with their monthly payments. The Tswane (Pretoria) municipality is owed R17 billion in arrears for services supplied.

They recovered R1.55 million in arrear payments yesterday and one wonders why they haven’t done this sooner?

Bad news is that the Blue Train has been taken out of service. The state of our railways is disastrous with miles and miles of cable being stolen daily, stations decimated and even tracks lifted. This just further kills tourism and the government is directly responsible for our continuing decline into failed state status.

One person was arrested when a fire broke out in a Blue Train coach that had been taken in for repair early this week.

It does seem as if fires are the weapon of the unhappy. UCT was burnt and badly damaged when fire swept through the library and valuable documents were lost. During the insurrection last year, not only were lives lost but fire did enormous damage to business and properties in the targeted areas and looting became a sport. I don’t have to remind you about the fire in Parliament in January and now this……It does look like fire is being used as a continuing weapon by the disgruntled.

I have stopped touring. Some of you may well have noticed that ‘The Famous Tour’ advert and logo at the bottom of these weekly newsletters disappeared almost a year ago.

Well that didn’t stop Michael and Ilana from LA getting hold of me and with their good friends & cousins Geoff and Denise (Toronto) meeting me at Mooiberge to have coffee at the Zetler scarecrows.  We have all toured together before and it was great just chatting. What a lovely people and such a lovely catch-up!

This past weekend the coach and I watched rugby and football. The rugby was some of the best local rugby we have seen in ages. The Sharks beat the Bulls (a red card to fly-half Morne Steyn at the 10 minute mark certainly helped their cause) and the Stormers ate the Lions for dinner at Ellis Park. But, oh dear, it’s hard being Spurs fan. This week they played twice and lost twice. It doesn’t get harder than that. 

As always,


Email:     Phone: +27 82 557 5775