OUT TO LUNCH ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
When you write a book, or in my case gather a year’s worth of columns together, put them between two flimsy soft covers and flog them as a collection certain rules apply.
When the first ‘Out to Lunch’ book of collected Sunday Times columns emerged just before Christmas in 2002 and shot to the number one position on the Exclusive Books bestseller list two weeks before Christmas (much to the fury of Comrades du Preez, Harber and Roper et al) much unwanted attention was paid to the biographical cover notes.
The cover notes read as follows’ “He read English and Drama at Exeter University, which was followed by a disastrous attempt to become barrister”. My many envious enemies in the media leapt upon this piece of info and spitefully reproduced it over time as “failed as a barrister” and similar such rot.
What none of them had realised, never having written a best-selling book themselves, is that budgetary constraints prepublication require the author to write his own cover notes in the third person hence my self deprecatory reference to my non existent legal career.
In fact, I even had to write the intro to my first book because we simply couldn’t afford the late Ken Owen’s outlandish fee for doing so.
Despite my modest admission that a career in the legal profession was not for me I did manage to pick up a few hints while I was supposedly ‘studying’ law and hanging around Middle Temple just off Fleet Street.
Well, to be more honest, hanging around the Essex Head and Ye Olde Cock Tavern in Fleet Street in the hope of meeting Rumpole of the Bailey. I have to say that I found the study of law so unbelievably dull that I was easily seduced by the siren calls of capitalism and went off to join the firm of Laurie, Milbank (stockbrokers) and thence pursued a career in financial market trading which turned out pretty well in hindsight.
That said, certain legal aphorisms remained firmly embedded in my memory. “Be you never so high, the law is above you” from Dr Thomas Fuller as re-quoted by Lord Denning (Master of the Rolls and one of the UK’s most intellectual and influential judges in his 38 years on the bench).
In plain English this means that no man is above the law. Then there was ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ and ‘justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done’. All of which can be disregarded when it comes to the ANC.
Despite Pres Frogboiler’s frequent promises that the corrupt will be brought to justice have you noticed that as soon as the miscreants are brought to court the case gets adjourned for another few months or the guilty party turns up with a sick note specifying ‘medical condition’ and F all happens.
In fact, apart from a few insignificant rats and mice, I can’t recall a single court case despite overwhelming evidence of guilt (thanks to our investigative journos) that has got past the lawyers introducing themselves to the judge and getting home in time for lunch.
As some of my far better qualified fellow PolWeb scribes have already pointed out, our Constitutional Court is rapidly becoming a farce worthy of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the JCC is a sick joke and the judiciary is yet another example of grim state capture with just a few brave souls who still value integrity fighting for survival. Sadly the odds seem stacked against them at the moment.
The uncomfortable truth that the rule of law has virtually collapsed in South Africa is what lends zero credibility to the ANC municipal election campaign as the ruling party spreads across the country pretending that they have recognised the wrongs of the past and are about to rectify them. After twenty-seven years? Yeah right.
Pres Frogboiler was in my neck of the woods last week talking his usual bullshit and promising the undeliverable as ever. Back in 2019 he promised one million new houses to the residents of Alexandra and they are still waiting.
The same goes for the promise of new jobs, a revitalised economy, schools without pit latrines and blah, blah, blah. How anybody can still believe a word the ANC say beggars belief.
With over 50% of our municipalities insolvent and some dangerously so you might have hoped the message would have got through to voters that the country is being run by a dodgy bunch of buffoons who shouldn’t be trusted to run a spaza shop. But it seems that it isn’t so.
Hand out a couple of ‘Made in China’ baseball caps or T-shirts in garish ANC colours (I’m told that the black represents the gloomy outlook for the future, the green represents the envy for anybody who has made a success of their lives and the yellow is for the cowardice in not admitting that the past twenty seven years have been a huge confidence trick at the expense of the people) and before you know it the desperate hordes are chanting ‘Viva ANC, Viva Poverty, Viva Land Expropriation, Viva Communism’ in the hope that a Big Mac is on the way.
But to understand South African politics it is essential to grasp the real reason that those in the ANC seek power. As has been demonstrated over almost three decades it has nothing to do with uplifting the poor and downtrodden and introducing a better life for all.
As has been so ably demonstrated at municipal level it is all about getting paid far more than the private sector could ever afford to pay for an incompetent person with no obvious skills and then directing public funds towards your personal bank account, either directly or by dodgy tenders if you’re a bit more sophisticated in your thieving strategy.
That is why more than 50% of municipalities are bankrupt, why rubbish isn’t collected, why shit runs in the road, why there’s no running water and why there’s a new Range Rover Sport in the local politician’s garage. When the money eventually runs out the enthusiasm to become an ANC councillor will also run out.
But let’s get real here. For years the unofficial motto of the ANC has been ‘Lie and Deny’ which is why so few cases involving thieving politicians ever reach a court room. The latest example is our own disgraced former Health Minister Dr Zweli (Sleazy) Mkhize who, having been given some home time on full pay to think things over, has now come up with the highly original excuse that he was completely unaware of huge amounts of Digital Vibes money (courtesy of his department) flowing in unusual ways towards his son who he has suddenly discovered he is ‘estranged’ from. ‘Sur votre bicyclette’ as they say in the ghettoes of London.
The fact is that all those involved in a R150mln COVID funding scam should have been put in prison months ago but, given the judiciary’s current appetite for adjourning ‘tricky’ cases I wouldn’t be holding my breath for any major change in their living conditions anytime soon.
But just to add to the comedy of errors that is the ANC, little Thabo Mbeki was dusted down last week and brought out to make a speech to the party faithful where he said that the ANC was too big to fail because if it did the country would also fail. I’m not sure where Thabo has been hibernating recently but the reality is that the ANC failed long ago and the country looks like heading that way too.
Of course, next week’s municipal elections may well prove me wrong but I’m not optimistic. The ANC has created so many desperate people over the years that a R350 welfare payment, a T-shirt and one fast food meal every five years is all it takes to keep the plunder party afloat.
Apropos my column two weeks ago bewailing the invention of the intrusive iPhone.
I spent part of last weekend in Franschhoek at a glorious retreat called La Roche Estate tucked away in the mountains. On Friday I had booked for lunch with friends at Haut Cabriere preceded by a guided wine tasting by the legendary Achim von Arnim.
Achim and I had been partners in crime at the opening of the Steenberg wine cellar back in December 1996. I had given the politically incorrect after dinner speech and he had performed the sabrage on the first bottle of many of the evening after which we both proceeded to get in the party mood. This ended with me falling into an ornamental fish pond in a Cape Town nightclub in full dinner jacket and getting ‘home’ at around 2am.
The lunch was splendid but in order to read the menu and to observe COVID protocols one had to point one’s Smart phone at something called a QR code and the menu was then supposed to appear on your phone.
All I got was the picture of a QR code but I imagined that was because I am a Luddite and a pauper and only have an iPhone 6. I only found out much later that there is a setting that enables the camera to read a QR code and allow Mark Zuckerberg and his totalitarian buddies in China to monitor every aspect of my life. Maybe it’s time to dig out the old Nokia and become a hermit.