The crowd that wasn't meant-to-be

David Bullard writes on Ace Magashule's rent-a-mob for his court appearance


If you had any doubts that South Africa was heading for failed nation status then those doubts would have been dispelled, appropriately enough, on Friday 13th November. We’ve already managed to turn ourselves from the post Mandela rainbow nation that held so much hope for the future into the junk status omni-shambles we currently find ourselves in.

Forget all the claptrap about the legacy of apartheid or 1652 being squarely to blame for all our ills. Where we find ourselves today as a country is entirely the fault of the criminal syndicate known as the ANC that has been systematically bleeding South Africa for a quarter of a century.

So there we were in Bloemfontein on Friday 13th where the ANC secretary general Ace Magashule had presented himself as a result of the issue of a warrant of arrest. Sadly we never got to see Ace clapped in hand-cuffs and bundled into a police van but that’s not surprising given the man’s sway over the corrupt organization he represents.

The order apparently went out from the ANC top brass that there was to be no demonstrating in ANC regalia for any member of the party accused of crookery. That was obviously intended as a sort of in-house joke because precisely the opposite happened.

The rent-a-mob crowd duly pitched up, no doubt bussed in and given the promise of a decent fast food lunch, and did their usual routine of dancing around, waving their fists in the air, and grabbing a bit of air-time on TV stations by saying that they wouldn’t allow their hero Ace to be treated with such disrespect.

I did manage to catch a short clip on TV of a group outside the magistrate’s court saying that the people of the Free State had been treated shabbily, that life was particularly miserable there and that Ace should go to prison but that clip seems to have disappeared or maybe they are just not giving it as much airtime. After all, our ‘independent’ broadcasters do rely on the ANC for a license.

After being granted R200 000 bail (an amount Magashule claimed, with a straight face, that he doesn’t have), the great man took to the streets to address the crowd that he asked not to be there dressed in ANC regalia.

He did look a bit unsettled admittedly but it didn’t take long for him to get into his stride. While his supporters burnt t-shirts with the image of Cyril Ramaphosa on them, Cde Ace pleaded his innocence and rabbited on about how the media ignore all the good works the ANC have done, such as sending kids to Cuba to study as medics. Most people would regard being sent to Cuba as a punishment but clearly the ANC reckon it’s quite a brag factor.

Then Magashule darkly warned of the skeletons in other’s closets and how he may have to spill the beans if things get tough for him. This is a pretty standard response from anyone with his back to the wall and it’s just possible Magashule may be bluffing.

However, given the corruption and moral rot that courses through the veins of the ANC it’s quite possible that he has plenty of those ‘smallanyana skeletons’ to expose.

If I were ever arrested on a charge of fraud, money laundering or corruption and I wanted to plead my innocence I think I’d be rather particular about who accompanied me to court to say what a great guy I was.

A couple of well respected charity workers maybe, a blameless priest or two and someone who had selflessly devoted their life to the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. Not easy to find amongst my social circle admittedly but surely a lot better than Ace’s choice of best buddies.

There, dressed as GI Joe, was little Carl Niehaus vociferously offering his support to Magashule. As is well known Niehaus is himself a liar and fraudster having faked both his father’s and his mother’s deaths at some time in his life in an attempt to get his grubby hands on other people’s money.

Then there was dear old Tony (sweaty hands) Yengeni, convicted fraudster, serial drunken driver, racist, and foul- mouthed thug. How on earth the ANC can, with a straight face, allow these two scumbags to appear in public and represent the ruling party is beyond comprehension.

They should have been expelled years ago but I’m afraid the fact that both of them are still on the ANC payroll and are considered ‘royal game’ is indicative of how thoroughly evil the ANC has become.

The mainstream media has now reported that the war is on and Cde Ace is going all out to unseat the President. But, as anybody familiar with gangster movies knows, that’s how things happen when there is a power struggle within the crime family.

The chances of Ace Magashule ever wearing orange are slim because all sorts of dodgy scams will be used by the ANC to either delay or disrupt the court proceedings.

What should have happened as soon as a warrant for his arrest was issued was that he would be asked to step down as Secretary General of the ANC. If he refused then he should have been sacked. Since it’s pretty clear that Ace is going nowhere then I think we can safely assume that he and his equally dodgy supporters will be around for many years to come.

What I fail to understand though is why so many people on the streets in Bloemfontein last Friday should be coming out in support of Magashule. They lead miserable lives in a province which has been impoverished by his actions, they presumably haven’t benefitted financially from any association with him and yet they joyfully support an obviously corrupt leader who offers no hope for a better future.

South Africa’s grasp of democracy is very strange.


A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I had run into a chef of one of our top restaurants who told me how dire business was. That chef happened to be Gregory Czarnecki from the award winning Waterkloof restaurant which is to close this Sunday. I tweeted that, not being a dedicated football fan, I don’t often use the word ‘gutted’ but that’s how I felt when I heard the news.

Apart from the spectacular location and the stunning architecture (the restaurant is located in a cantilevered glass cube with stunning views over False Bay) there was the food to consider. My first visit was six years ago during the restaurants pre award days.

We phoned on the off chance that they may have a table for lunch which they did. It was love at first bite. The welcome was warm, we were made to feel special even though it was our first visit and the food was sublime. The Waterkloof wines were an added attraction and I immediately became a member of their wine club.

We returned many times for both lunch and dinner and it was always superb. One of the biggest thrills was to invite guests who had never previously visited and watch as their jaws dropped at the unbelievable beauty of the place.

Sadly that is no more and one of the country’s top restaurants has disappeared, a victim of lockdown. They are probably not alone and many top dining establishments must be counting the cost of low occupancy and wondering whether it is worth trying to carry on.

The tragedy of all this is that Chef Gregory and his team and the whole Waterkloof experience was one of the best reasons to visit the Western Cape. Many of their regulars were foreign visitors who loved the fact that could enjoy fine dining for little more than the price of a pub lunch in London.

However, it’s probably not just the lockdown that has caused the foreign owners of Waterkloof to close their restaurant. My guess is that they have looked at the current state of South African politics and decided that any further investment would be money poured down the drain at the moment. And who can blame them?