Just a little bit of looting

David Bullard writes on the revealing Vryburg 'call centre' tender scandal


There are times when I feel genuinely sorry for Pres Frogboiler’s complete inability to ‘read the room’. Sadly it’s become a feature of his Presidency, particularly when he starts telling us how well the ANC has been doing and listing all the wonderful things they have done for the ‘people on the ground’.

Lately, even the ‘people on the ground’ have been greeting his boasts with snorts of derision as well they might. If you’re living in a bankrupt ANC municipality run by corrupt cadres and you have sewage running down the streets you’re probably not terribly receptive to hearing a billionaire President with an ocean facing mansion in Fresnaye telling you how lucky you are to be in the tender care of the ANC.

Last Sunday News24 led with a story about Vryburg in the North West Province. Apparently R38 million has been spent on a prefabricated building which they claim is to be used as a call centre in the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality. This is in the same tatty yard as the existing call centre.

Now you do have to doff your hat at the ANC cadres because when they are in thieving mode the slogan is obviously ‘go big or go home’. If they had spent R6 million on a shack (sorry, a prefabricated structure) to house their new imaginary call centre then that would already have been eye-wateringly expensive.

A quick check on Property 24 reveals that you can purchase an elegant eight bedroom home in Vryburg for R3.6 million and it’s made of traditional building materials.

But why spend R6 million of taxpayer’s money when you can blow R38 million with no fear of ever seeing the inside of a courtroom? Admittedly there may be some huffing and puffing from comrades who weren’t cut in on the deal but, as we’ve learned over the years from the top down, the chances of ever going to court are so remote as to make fraud a very viable lifestyle choice. And it certainly beats working for a living. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

And in the highly unlikely event that the National Procrastinating Authority had finally got off its lazy backside and decided to eventually prosecute someone the courts would almost certainly perpetually postpone the case on the basis that they couldn’t read the handwriting on the docket or that the defence counsel had a cold on the scheduled day of the trial.

The backlog of cases awaiting trial is now so huge that you can reasonably expect an adjournment of at least a year which will be followed by a similar adjournment. Meanwhile, a very modest bail payment ensures that you remain free to register the names of other fake companies and carry on thieving.

The reason Frogboiler gave recently for not kicking out known bad eggs in the ANC is that they haven’t been found guilty in a court of law. A neat Catch 22 situation. What’s not to like if you’re a corrupt cadre?

But the R38 million call centre shack is only part of the story. The municipality is also paying R1.4 million every month for the rental of call centre equipment.

For example, it rents a computer mouse for R469 every month when it could buy one outright for around R70. It prefers to rent a computer keyboard for R450 a month rather than buy one for R100. Rather than buy a Lenovo desktop computer from ‘takealot.com’ for R8 500 (including keyboard) it prefers to rent at R32000 a month.

Then there’s internet fibre connectivity priced at R25 000 a month (I pay R700). This is mindbogglingly gaga stuff but the municipal manager, one Itumeleng Jonas defends the expenditure. It would be interesting to learn what car Mr Jonas drives.

While this may be an exceptional level of dishonesty it is by no means atypical in so many of our municipalities run by people who have redefined service delivery as putting themselves first. As the shameless Smuts Ngonyama said, “I didn’t join the struggle to be poor”.

A check on who actually controls the purse strings in this Mickey Mouse municipality reveals that the ANC and the EFF are the main snouts at the trough with just over 80% of votes (ANC 60% and EFF 20%).

Whether the other 480 000 or so residents of Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality will notice any major improvement in the quality of their daily lives is doubtful but you get what you vote for.

The recent Brenthurst Foundation survey showed support for the ANC falling to 41% from 48% this time last year. Rather worryingly though it showed support for our very own homegrown terrorist organisation, the EFF, as up from 11% to 17% in the same period.

The EFF have recently been clarifying their political objectives on social media. First off, all land and property will belong to the state and there will be no private ownership. The state will then allocate property on the basis of who it thinks most deserving. Some suggest that this applies not just to land but to all property. So the family car will also belong to the state and may be redistributed to a more needy family.

Meanwhile all financial institutions will be state owned and run by people dressed in red overalls. This will ensure that there is no ensuing banking crisis or even an investment crisis when all the property financed by banks and financial institutions is converted to state ownership. Since the EFF led revolutionary government will own the banks it is simply a matter of a book-keeping entry and that’s what the EFF are really good at.

One can quite understand why Pres Frogboiler is on a charm offensive because that figure of 41% support is quite likely to plummet as more and more people realise that, whatever they may say, the ANC are unlikely to change their ways. They will still continue to cosy up to terrorists and states with appalling human rights records and they will continue to pay themselves handsomely, even as the majority of the country go to bed hungry. They have no plans whatsoever to reduce unemployment other than to increase the size of the civil service.

They really do think they can afford to introduce National Health Insurance despite overwhelming evidence that they can’t even run the healthcare system they already control and that the introduction of NHI would drive qualified medical professionals to emigrate. After all, who wants to be told when and where to work and for how much by a gangster government?

They will continue to hang on to utterly useless cabinet ministers and they will continue to indulge a secretary general who likes to dress up as a bumble bee on occasions. In a nutshell, they will continue to lie and deny and to treat South Africans of all races as idiots.

I started by saying that I feel genuinely sorry for Pres Frogboiler’s inability to read the room. Like so many people, I had high hopes back in February of 2018 although doubts were beginning to surface when I wrote a piece for Politicsweb that November asking whether Cyril wasn’t the white man’s ‘Judas goat’.

Since then he has, despite the wild fantasies of bullet trains crisscrossing the nation and smart cities with great employment opportunities popping up like Namaqualand daisies, just become another facilitating stooge in the gangster organisation known as the ANC.

However, when he inappropriately photobombed the Rugby World Cup presentation ceremony and grabbed the Webb Ellis trophy I shuddered in disbelief. Surely not? That it should come to this? Judging by the reactions of many of my fellow South Africans I am not alone. The desperate last gasps of a dying regime? Let’s hope.


Next weekend is going to be interesting in London. Supporters of a Free Palestine are threatening to take to the streets on the same day that others in the nation wish to commemorate those who fell in both World Wars in defence of democracy. The target for the Pro Palestine march is one million and even if they reach half that number it will surely outnumber the old codgers gathered at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

T S Eliot used the expression ‘l’entre deux guerres’ in Four Quartets to describe the ‘twenty years, largely wasted” between the two World Wars. I have never been called up or served in a military unit in my life. The years of ‘l’entre deux guerres’ now total seventy eight and, hopefully, they haven’t been years largely wasted.

However, despite having never fought in a war I am still moved by the Armistice parade every year. This is probably because I heard all about the horror of war from my late parents who were in their mid-teens when war broke out and I didn’t think that it sounded like a great way to spend their youth.

Last Saturday 4th November was the 105th anniversary of the death of the war poet Wilfred Owen; shot by enemy machine gun fire at age 25 just one week before peace was declared on 11th November 1918. That afternoon I watched a superb performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem on YouTube.

This is a setting of Wilfred Owen’s poems together with the Latin Requiem mass for the dead and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. You will thank me for this, I promise.

I fear for the country of my birth and particularly for my former hometown, London. Anarchy and possibly even civil war threaten.

Watching the jubilation among my fellow countrymen (schmoozing politicians excepted) last week during the Springbok victory tour around the country made me very happy that I live in South Africa. Maybe there is hope for us after the 2024 election after all.