Our entitled elite

David Bullard says that while ordinary people battle to get by our rulers demands are bottomless


There are those who believe that the total eclipse of the sun visible over much of America on 8th April presages Armageddon and they will refer you to the highly entertaining (and potentially Oscar award winning if directed by Ridley Scott) Revelation of St John the Divine which comes at the back of the King James version of The Bible.

In a nutshell, trumpets will sound, okes on horses will fill the sky, there will be a rushing of wind and Israel won’t need to worry about armaments supplies from the US if Donald Trump gets elected because the supply will have dried up and, anyway, it will be the end of days.

But in this age of AI and fake news should we believe a word of it? Probably not. My fellow winelands readers have experienced horrific gales over the past weekend. On the estate where I live a large blue gum has been blown over and collapsed onto the electric perimeter fence that protects us from those out there who want to take back the land and eat our beating hearts. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

The historic Blaauwklippen wine estate (dating from 1682) lost three historic buildings to a raging fire, trees were down throughout Stellenbosch, roofs were ripped off buildings and Somerset Mall evacuated on Sunday morning after a large portion of the metal sheeting was ripped off the roof. This is before the 60mm of rain with accompanying gale force winds we have been promised is on the way.

The weird thing about such a natural disaster is that there will be those who dance with glee at the fact that wine farms and the properties of the well off can so easily be destroyed. The reality though is that it is the less well-off who suffer most. If you live, like many do after 30 years of the ANC’s tender, loving care, in a zinc shack in a crowded informal settlement then you constantly have fire, flooding and wind to worry about in addition to crime and gang warfare.

And yet my domestic worker comes once a week with a smile on her face even when her home a kilometre from where I live has been flooded and she is knee deep in water. She is currently fighting a court battle with her estranged husband who is spending time in Pollsmoor prison for attempting to murder her and torch the family home where her (and presumably his) young children live.

Apart from paying her even when she can’t make it to work and giving her food parcels I’m not sure what more I can do. None of the extras are either demanded or expected but are always gratefully received. She is one of the many thoroughly decent South Africans who make up this country and struggle uncomplainingly to survive.

Similarly, my once-a-week Zimbabwean gardener commutes in from over twenty five kilometres away and arrives punctually at eight in the morning when we give him breakfast. He is nervously watching developments on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit with which the ANC government is currently taunting him. If he goes back to Zim he knows that there is no work to be had and that the country is stuffed thanks to corruption.

At least in South Africa he can make a living and feed himself and his family, but only just. His work clothes are worn and tattered so when I gave him some shirts and trousers that I no longer wanted he was almost tearful with thankfulness. When I gave him some almost new hiking boots he virtually fell to the ground in gratitude.

I don’t like to pry too much but during a brief conversation it became apparent that if he doesn’t work then he doesn’t eat. The lunch his employers provide him with at midday is the only main meal he will eat during the day and he will go to bed in his very basic dwelling hungry every night.

So when we now hand him a few groceries when he goes home he can’t stop thanking us. Apart from gardening he can turn his hand to a variety of other jobs such as painting and various handyman chores that I’m not very skilled at.

Utterly reliable and trustworthy, this is precisely the sort of person we should be begging to stay in the country and not chasing away under some vile xenophobic accusation of taking South African jobs.

Contrast this with the demands of our ruling elite and their obscene sense of entitlement. Our disgraced former Public Protector, the super sleazy Busisiwe Mkhwebane, apart from having no shred of integrity when confronted with the accusation that she failed to declare a conflict of interest when she was sitting on the committee to select a Deputy Public Protector, has also recently complained that she can barely get by every month on only R90 000 rand. That’s presumably in addition to all the perks she believes herself entitled to.

The gap between my living standards and costs and those of my domestic worker and gardener is huge but nowhere near the gap between my living standards and costs and those of the disgraced ex Public Protector.

And even greater is the gap between most hard working and tax paying South Africans (with the exception of Standard Bank board executives) and those who claim to be running the country. How on earth you cannot manage on a salary of over R2 million a year with free luxury cars, security, accommodation and travel additionally provided has always puzzled me. But that’s socialism for you I guess.

Last week, on her Primedia Midday Report show, Mandy Wiener made a comment about the somewhat excessive use of and cost of VIP protection for so many of our vainglorious politicians. It seems that they can’t even attend an Easter Sunday church service without the escort of a stream of shiny, expensive BMW’s with blue flashing lights and heavily armed thugs.

This may be partly due to a very understandable feeling of inadequacy after thirty years of gross mismanagement of a once promising country. The more useless you are as a ruler the more you need to surround yourself with grandeur and sycophants. Even the Romans knew that.

However, the security paranoia amongst the political elite probably has more to do with the realisation that nobody likes them very much and that they wouldn’t dare appear in public without tight security and a vast display of weaponry. The days when Pres Frogboiler could go jogging along the Seapoint promenade and be hugged and embraced by grateful members of the Jewish community are long gone.

The worrying aspect of this is that if the electorate don’t get the result they want on May 29th they may well resort to less conventional methods of regime change as has happened elsewhere in the world. In which case only eight bullet proof VIP protection unit vehicles may not be enough.


Having mentioned the enormous cost of visiting the UK at the current exchange rate I was most impressed that some algorithm picked up my thoughts and sent me details of a five day birding trip on Rovos Rail due to take place in late November and early December this year.

Now, I have a history with Rovos Rail. I was invited on one of their first trips from Pretoria to Kaapmuiden (and thence to Londolozi) which was pulled by a steam train all the way with a watering stop at Witbank. It was so fantastic that I booked out the entire train for my 50th birthday party. We started festivities with a drinks party for 60 at the elegant Victoria Hotel just opposite Pretoria Station but there was a departure delay so we left an hour later than intended.

Clearly the guests were much better oiled by that time. The steam train took us out to Magaliesberg during which time we had a three course meal in the 1920’s dining car (sadly since destroyed) followed by speeches in praise of yours truly in the Observation car (and bar) at the back of the train. It was a wonderful party from what I can remember of it.

I’ve travelled on Rovos Rail several times since, once most memorably racing a Bentley from Cape Town to Pretoria in memory of Barney Barnato. That cost me a Breitling watch.

The birdy trip will set you back R90 000 per person for a decent compartment which might sound a bit excessive since you have to be up early in the morning to look for birds. But it’s well worth it because you can be pampered the rest of the time. On the other hand you can be a cheapskate and just buy a bird identification DVD.