Can it get any worse?

David Bullard writes on the latest depressing revelations from the Zondo commission


“I am feeling very depressed about all the corruption in South Africa. Am I the only one?”

This was a plaintive Tweet which appeared last week and received 330 replies, 242 retweets and 1600 likes. In Twitter world that’s a pretty strong signal that your comment has enjoyed some resonance with the Twitterati. My own reply was “Only now?”

The interesting thing about this tweet is that it came from a person I respect hugely. Someone who has worked tirelessly to make South Africa a better and more just place for everyone, but particularly those who haven’t enjoyed the advantages so many other South Africans have enjoyed since 1994. Someone who passionately believed that 1994 and, more importantly, Cyril’s new dawn would bring us together as a country and make us proud and strong.

Knowing a bit about the author’s background made that tweet more poignant. The replies, the majority of them civil, echoed the sense of hopelessness that many South Africans now feel.

Can it get any worse we wonder and then we experience another week of Zondo revelations and we get our answer. Yes, it can get much worse and we probably don’t know the half of it yet. R420million wasted to sanitise schools that aren’t even being used has a slightly comic element to it, particularly as the amount stolen in this cadre heist is modest compared to other scams we have already heard about.

Last week’s episode of Zondo revealed how much tax payer’s money had been sucked out over the years by the State Security Agency in it’s efforts to undermine democracy and buy off the media, academics, members of the judiciary and other state and quasi state functionaries. Looking at the mess we find ourselves in they seem to have done a pretty good job.

I semi joked in a column last year that Raymond Zondo must have one of the worst jobs imaginable having to listen, week after week, to seemingly endless stories of what can only be termed state rape. If you went to a Hollywood producer with a storyline similar to what we’ve been hearing from the Zondo commission you would be told to go home and write something more believable.

But it’s not only the Zondo revelations that are sending perfectly decent and patriotic South Africans into a spiral of depression. It’s the daily nastiness that the ANC seem to take such delight in foisting on its subjects that is painfully visible and upsetting.

I’m not talking here about lockdown restrictions. The French curfew from 18h00 until 06h00 is much stricter than ours and most of Europe now suffer lockdown rules that make ours look positively benign.

The ban on walking on the beach doesn’t make much sense until a whole lot of people decide to visit the beach to protest against not being allowed to visit the beach.

Most businesses are open and it’s possible to get a haircut in SA. The liquor ban is a bit of a bore but, as I predicted a few weeks ago, new suppliers have already stepped in to fill the vacuum left by traditional sources, albeit at black market prices. But that’s economics 101 - where demand exceeds supply the price of goods will rise. Not that one could expect the commie command council to grasp that simple reality.

No, it’s the mean spirited bureaucracy, the excessive use of force by the police, the collapse of state run operations like the post office, the hopelessness of trying to renew a driving license, the pointless prosecution of easy targets for not wearing a mask while real criminals go free…. the list is endless.

The visibly upsetting news last week for many of us were the long queues at Post Offices for SASSA payments and the shocking backstories of how people had been camping out overnight in the hopes of receiving their grant. Or how they had travelled for kilometres, often at great cost, to collect the R350 which is supposed to see them through the next month. That’s roughly what it costs me to buy some chicken breasts and vegetables which might last me four days. How on earth do these people even stay alive?

I drove past the Somerset West post office last Saturday at 7.30am and already the queue was snaking around the building. There were plenty of masks but very little social distancing because once you have a place in the queue you guard it jealously. My guess is that 70% of that queue didn’t even make it into the post office.

So, do the ANC get some sort of power kick out of knowing that thousands of wretched, sick and emaciated people, many of them recently made unemployed, have to queue for hours and even days in their desperation to feed themselves and their families?

All this with no guarantee that they will reach the front of the queue or that there will be any money left when they get there. Maybe the ANC, having hobbled the economy over the last decade and sacrificed so many jobs, feel that queuing is all they have left to offer their voters. After all, there’s nothing else left to occupy their day.

Feeling depressed about corruption is perfectly understandable but what we really ought to be feeling depressed about is the sheer evil of the ANC regime and its cynical treatment of what they themselves like to call ‘the poorest of the poor’ or the ‘most vulnerable’. But I guess if you’re receiving over R1-million a year plus all the perks as an ordinary ANC MP you wouldn’t be losing too much sleep at the prospect of having to join a long queue of proles for the price of a few vegetables and some meat. That’s the communist dream come true.

I’ve just finished re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 and these words struck a chord:

“There are only four ways in which a ruling group can fall from power. Either it is conquered from without, or it governs so inefficiently that the masses are stirred to revolt, or it allows a strong and discontented Middle group to come into being, or it loses its own self-confidence and willingness to govern. These causes do not operate singly, and as a rule all four of them are present in some degree. A ruling class which could guard against all of them would remain in power permanently. Ultimately the determining factor is the mental attitude of the ruling class itself”

Even a cursory knowledge of history should tell you that you cannot treat the masses with contempt and get away with it forever. In South Africa’s case though, everyone bar the inner circle of the corrupt ANC have been treated with utter contempt and the evidence is there for all to see.

A year ago 702’s Bruce Whitfield interviewed CNN’s Richard Quest at the annual Davos rich kid’s gabfest. He asked how SA was seen amongst the world’s financial movers and shakers and what we need to do to be taken seriously. Quest’s response back then was “Well how many people have gone to prison so far?” Exactly.


I see the release of the new James Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’ (a rather unfortunate title during a pandemic) has been delayed for the second time. Now that Ster-Kinekor has gone into business rescue it’s possible that we’ll never see it on the big screen.

Going to the movies or the theatre is going to be something you tell your grandchildren about as they stare at you in open eyed wonder. I’m definitely missing live theatre and as an amateur thespian greatly missing not being able to audition for plays.

More than that though I am missing live music and March will mark the last time I went to a live performance at the Endler auditorium in Stellenbosch. Watching DVD’s of operas and concerts isn’t nearly as satisfying.

However, my subscription to Netflix more than makes up for not being able to go to the cinema. The offering just gets better and better and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see ‘No Time to Die’ being offered on Netflix when the distributors finally get the message that COVID and its various mutations is going to be with us way beyond October 2021 according to the experts.

I’ve almost finished watching ‘Bridgerton’ and have been struck by the brilliant subliminal anti BLM message the series conveys. For those unfamiliar with the programme, it is a lavish period piece set in Regency England circa 1811-1820 (before the Slavery Abolition Act 1833).

It was a time when daughters of the aristocracy of a marriageable age were presented at the royal court as debutantes where they could be inspected for their fitness to breed by prospective husbands. As Jane Austen discovered, this provided plenty of material for a thundering good yarn.

The interesting thing about ‘Bridgerton’ though is that many members of the royal court are black (or ‘people of colour’ as the nervously woke prefer to call them for fear of giving offence). The lead character, the Duke of Hastings, is black as are the Queen and Lady Danbury. One of the female cousins of the daughters of the marriageable family is also black but, unfortunately ‘with child’ so the chances of landing a good prospective husband aren’t so good.

Last week Netflix proudly announced that ‘Bridgerton’ had been watched by 87 million households in the twenty eight days it had been available. That’s a quarter of a billion people at a rough guess and I doubt whether too many of those are very familiar with the Regency period in England.

The unintended result of all this is that there will be an ever growing number of people who believe in the historical accuracy of Bridgerton and will be convinced that black aristocrats were a common sight in the royal court in the early nineteenth century. Accusations of ‘white privilege’ will be met with snorts of disdain and replies of ‘what about Lady Danbury then?’

Since the Duke of Hastings had sworn to his dying father that he would not have children that one is easily explained. As to any other questions as to what happened to all the rest of the black aristocracy one only needs to nod knowingly and reply that they are in hiding for fear of their lives. Or maybe the second series will hold all the answers.