A Buffalo spring

Andrew Donaldson says now that the thief-in-chief is on his way out some in the NPA have decided to do their jobs


HEAR that? That low sound hanging in the air these past few days? At times when the night is quiet, we can pick up a faint echo, here at the Mahogany Ridge, as it reverberates in the distance off the southern Peninsula mountains.


Some of the regulars feel it is nothing much, just the dull thud of frustrated gardeners pounding on their empty rainwater tanks. 

Others feel it is a little more than that, that this is the sound of white male city councillors viciously beating an effigy of mayor Patricia de Lille in response to her ham-fisted handling of the water crisis and other transgressions.

The more literary among us feel there’s something apposite about a mob rounding on Piñata Patsy.

This year, after all, is the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which is not really the story of how a well-intentioned Dr Zillenstein gave life to a creature cobbled together from the cadavers of the Pan Africanist Congress and the Independent Democrats — only to then look on helplessly as it ran amok. But it could well be.

We digress however, and so back to that noise, which some hear as most basso profondo and are brazenly suggesting is the sound of the prosecution authorities actually growing a pair — kadonkadonk! — and doing their jobs, kind of.

For there goes the Asset Forfeiture Unit with plans to seize about R50-billion in Guptured assets, both here and offshore. Amazeballs!

And there goes Richard Mdluli, a man who has single-handedly done more than any other to unleash Jacob Zuma upon the land. 

Suspended as head of the SAPS crime intelligence unit, Mdluli somehow managed to remain in office despite facing murder and kidnapping charges and allegedly helping himself hand over fist to the unit’s slush fund. Die drol in die drinkwater, as they may say at Hoerskool Overvaal .

But now he’s finally fired — and presumably not immune to further sanction. More amazeballs! 

Is this the so-called Cyril Ramaphosa effect? The Buffalo Spring? It is certainly tempting to believe that it could well be that “ordinary” officials are free to pursue their duties now that Squirrel is leader of the ANC and will soon replace the thief-in-chief as head of state.

But the more cynical among us point out that the investigations into state capture, painstakingly slow as they may seem, did start some time before the ruling party’s elective conference in December — and at a time when the President firmly believed that the party leadership was ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s for the taking.

Little wonder, then, that Accused Number One’s supporters insist that it is their guy and not Squirrel who is going after the bad guys. 

And it certainly may seem that way, what with Fikile Mbalula, the tweeting police minister, warning that there would be “no holy cows” when it came to opening state capture-related criminal cases.

On Wednesday, he even warned of explosions. “You must not be shocked by what you see [in] asset forfeiture reports,” he told reporters. “There is going to be bombs that are going to come in relation to this issue of corruption.”

Well, let’s just say we’ve heard Mighty Mouth’s promises before. 

More than one commentator, meanwhile, has suggested there’s something all-too familiar about Mdluli’s axing, that it’s just Zuma throwing another former ally under the bus to save himself. The same presumably applies to the Saxonwold Shebeen proprietors. Does uBaba still need the Guptas’ patronage?

According to his supporters, Zuma’s immediate future does looks rather secure. They claim Ramaphosa won’t be in too much of a hurry to act against him, despite the clamour that the President be removed from office most pronto.

The thinking here, oddly, is that a recall would compromise ANC unity ahead of the 2019 general elections. Which is bit like ignoring a rotten molar in an abscessed jaw in the belief the tooth will heal itself.

Or, to put it another way, doing nothing in the hope that something miraculous will happen in the next few days to get Eskom out of trouble. 

Which is apparently the way the broken power utility’s executives are going about it.

Eskom, according to Treasury, has not given any indication that it can honour any of its R15-billion short-term debt obligations that have been rolled over until March. Its plans to approach the international market with a R12.3-billon bond issue are now all but doomed.

Their only hope? Zuma is out by Monday morning. They’re holding out for the Buffalo Spring, and they’re not the only ones.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.