On Tuesday the beleaguered ex-ANC spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, resigned from the employ of the ruling party (see here). This followed further revelations about his misconduct in his financial dealings, and a decision by the ANC's National Working Committee to send him on a "leave of absence." A party spokesperson explained that: "The ANC took him on the basis that he declared what had happened and now as the things are coming out and tumbling out the ANC itself is realising there was more to it than what he had given us."
There was further embarrassment for Niehaus on Wednesday after Beeld newspaper exposed "more lies" of his. It seems that his curriculum vitae posted on his investment company's website appears riddled with untruths, half-truths, omissions and exaggerations. The website was pulled offline on Tuesday; however a copy of the curriculum vitae that appeared there can be found here. In fairness, it should be noted that Niehaus has stopped responding to press queries so he may well have been able to provide reasonable explanations for at least some of these apparent discrepancies.
The claim: "Dr. Carl Niehaus first graduated with a B.A. Summa cum Laude from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, in 1983."
The truth: This claim was always somewhat incongruous given that Niehaus had registered at Wits in 1982 - after being expelled from RAU and UNISA for his political activities - and his prosecution for high treason concluded in November 1983. Beeld reports that Niehaus had never actually attained a degree from Wits. It quoted a university spokesperson, Shirona Patel, as saying: "We can confirm that he was registered as a student, but never graduated."
The claim: "While [serving as ambassador] in the Netherlands, he also studied and obtained his Masters and Doctorates in Theology Summa cum Laude from the University of Utrecht."
The truth: As Beeld reported yesterday (see here) this claim is false. The University of Utrecht has stated that Niehaus never received a doctoral degree.
The claim: "After concluding his term as Ambassador, Carl became a Partner of Deloitte (jointly in South Africa and The Netherlands). He was Project Leader in the Presidency for South Africa's 10th Anniversary Celebrations, after which he became the CEO of Rhema Ministries and ultimately the CEO of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (GEDA)."
The truth: While Niehaus did fill all these positions the CV (understandably) fails to disclose that his questionable financial dealings meant that he left all of them prematurely and under a cloud.
The claim: "He has ... been awarded many awards and honours, including being knighted by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands with the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau, the highest honour that the Dutch Royal Family can award a non-Dutch citizen."
The truth: Niehaus did receive such an award according to a Department of Foreign Affairs statement (May 17 2000). However, it noted that "The Order, which is only given to selected Ambassadors and is the highest Order that can be bestowed to representatives of foreign countries." A spokesperson for the Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden in Den Haag told Beeld that Niehaus didn't receive this honour "based on his personal merit, but because of his position as ambassador" to the Netherlands.
The claim: "Currently Carl sits on many boards, including the South African Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.,... the Nederlandse Maatschappij der Letteren, and the Afrikaanse Skrywersvereniging.
The truth: Beeld reports that this is all false. Niehaus was, apparently, a guest speaker on two occasions at the Afrikaans Skrywersverenging "but that is all". He also does not serve on the boards of the other two entities.
The claims: "He Chairs the Finance Committee of the South African Council of Churches (SACC)."
The truth: Ecumenical News International reported on Monday: "The general secretary of the SACC, Eddie Makue, told ENI, ‘He is not the chairperson of the SACCs finance committee'."
For all the exposure over the past few days of Niehaus's habitual lying and gross financial misconduct there is one key question that has yet to be answered: Was this former spokesman for Nelson Mandela and ex-ambassador to the Netherlands always like this? And was he just misjudged by informed opinion? Or did he fall into a deep dark hole several years back, from which he has never been able to escape? Was it then that his worst tendencies overcame his better qualities? And if so, what led to his fall?
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