David Bullard on our stalled corruption busting, the Omicron anagram debate, and building an authentic SA model railway
OUT TO LUNCH
The National Procrastinating Authority (NPA) has been much in the news of late. First came the story that Accountability Now, headed by the formidable Paul Hoffman SC, was threatening to drag NPA Shamila Batohi to court in an attempt to get her to do what she is paid to do; prosecute criminals.
The NPA’s track record has been nothing short of pathetic over the past three years and it’s no surprise that many respected legal minds are not only frustrated at the slow progress but also aware of the damage this is doing to the reputation of the judiciary.
Hot on the heels of this came the news that Investigating Directorate head Hermione Cronje wants out three years ahead of the end of her contract period. This has, quite naturally, led to much speculation. Was she out of her depth? Did she have personal issues with Batohi? Has she had a better job offer? Or are there other more personal reasons that she doesn’t feel the need to disclose?
My guess is that the workload was unreasonably stressful and heavy and that both Batohi and Cronje have been deliberately set up for failure by the ANC.
When Pres Frogboiler announced the new appointment of Batohi back in 2018 (Effective February 2019) it was clearly as a sop to all the stroppy whiteys who had been getting uppity about state capture.
A general election was looming and the ‘ruling party’ (as they used to like describing themselves back then) were keen to pretend that they were hunting down the bad guys and putting in a bulk order for orange overalls.
Needless to say the majority, and particularly the gullible mainstream media, fell for it hook, line and sinker and proclaimed that, post Shaun the Sheep, the NPA now had it’s very own Eliot Ness and a team of ‘untouchables’ to hunt down the baddies and put them away.
Almost three years later absolutely sod all has happened. Now this may be because Batohi and her team are utterly clueless but I don’t believe that to be the case. I would like to believe that the current employees of the NPA have as much desire to bring the corrupt to justice as the majority of the country’s long suffering citizens. The problem I suspect is twofold: money and obfuscation.
If you don’t much like what a government department is doing, particularly when it might affect your close mates or your party’s chances at the polls the first thing to do is to starve it of funding.
Investigating sleazeballs is time consuming and specialised work and a successful criminal prosecution depends on hard ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ evidence. Sleazeballs tend to cover their tracks and prefer not to leave a clear audit trail.
This is why they use a web of any number of newly formed companies, special purpose vehicles and even petrol pump attendants as cover for their nefarious activities.
That evidence has to be carefully sifted through and the red herrings discarded which means they need to employ people who haven’t scraped through matric. That costs money so if government cuts the funding of the NPA it cuts the probability of any successful and embarrassing prosecutions.
This is a strong argument for the NPA to be privatised and I, for one, would be delighted if 10% of my tax money went to funding a fully independent NPA with non political appointees.
The second problem is that of obfuscation. How confident are Batohi and her team of getting clear answers from people who are batting for the same side? And what are the real risks if you start probing key members of the ‘liberation movement’ too enthusiastically.
I would say that, along with un-corruptible SAPS investigating officers, the chances of being taken out in a drive by shooting are extraordinarily high based on recent evidence. We know that the ANC aren’t at all squeamish about eradicating troublesome members of their own party in KZN so why would they even bother about a nosy lawyer?
But even if a case is made and clear evidence is presented the chances of any justice being done or being seen to be done are virtually nil. Every time an ANC ‘bigwig’ is scheduled to appear in court on serious charges which carry a heavy prison sentence some reason is found to postpone the case for a few more months.
Then, almost certainly, the case will be postponed again ad infinitum. Some of these permanently delayed cases go back over a decade. But break one of the Disaster Management laws such as not wearing a mask in public and you’ll be in court within the month.
The fact of the matter is that, like most things under the ANC, the rule of law and the judicial system is broken beyond repair. Quite simply, it is in that state because it suits the ANC for it to be so.
While Paul Hoffman’s gallant attempt to get Batohi and her team to actually do something discernible is laudable I fear he may be rather expensively farting against thunder.
I was seriously upbraided by Cape Talk’s deeply woke John Maytham (known as John Mayhem in our house) last week. Standing in for the virtue signalling Refilwe Moloto (who manages to ‘feel very strongly’ about something just after 7:30 every morning) he crossed to Adam Gilchrist who presents the World View from London at around 7:45. This is essentially all the news we already know thanks to the internet but presented with a jovial twist by the amiable Mr Gilchrist. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
On Tuesday 30th November the subject of Omicron came up and Gilchrist commented that the new variant anagrammed as ‘No Crimbo’ if you included the letter B from the mutant code of B.1.1.529.
‘Crimbo’ , it should be explained , is Brit slang for Christmas and the message Gilchrist was attempting to convey was that Omicron was being used as yet another excuse to cancel the festive season in the UK.
At this point Maytham leapt in with the following. Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Maytham: “And people who are not particularly gifted when it comes to language and grammar say it’s an anagram of ‘moronic’ which it’s not (nervous laughter from Adam Gilchrist at this point). It suits them to claim that it is – a lot of people probably won’t check if it is indeed an anagram of ‘moronic’ – which it is not”.
Now, in defence of Maytham, he is not yet the stupidest person on talk radio. He does, after all, take obscure questions during his rapid fire slot on his afternoon show and comes away reasonably unscathed. He also appears in plays from time to time which suggests that he still has the mental capacity to learn and remember lines.
But he is clearly a duffer at Scrabble and is no Inspector Morse when it comes to tackling crosswords. So let me explain patiently to Mr Maytham how OMICRON becomes MORONIC (unless you are such a COVID Vaccine zealot that you don’t wish this to be true).
Take the third and fourth letters of OMICRON and move them to the end of the word John. That gives you OMRONIC. Then switch the first two letters and that gives you MORONIC. Clear now? Pretty straightforward isn’t it?
Now, as a finale, as somebody who is not “particularly gifted when it comes to language and grammar”, allow me leave you with this parting shot. If you combine the letters from the two best known COVID variants, DELTA and OMICRON it anagrams, rather appropriately, as MEDIA CONTROL.
So now are you feeling like an anagram of OMICRON Mr Maytham? But let’s be generous in this spirit of goodwill and put it down to brain fogging caused by some ingredient in the ‘jab’.
And on a lighter note, a ‘ferroequinologist’ is (whatever Maytham may say) somebody who has a recreational fascination with trains. This may be a train spotter or a railway modeller. Famous railway modellers include Rod Stewart, Roger Daltrey and Jools Holland with Rod Stewart’s recreation of New York’s Grand Central Station complete with 1940’s figures in period dress having made the cover of ‘Model Railroader’; an honour that Stewart said meant more to him than making the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
My late father was a keen railway modeller and we had a large train-set when I was growing up which went around the entire perimeter of the loft above the garage.
It wasn’t entirely authentic and the purists would have tut-tutted at the sight of a Canadian Pacific diesel sharing track with a Britannia steam train hauling some brown and cream Pullman carriages and pulling into what was evidently meant to be a rural station in England.
The whole point of a really good train layout was to recreate the entire environment in miniature. This involved meticulously creating the stations, the shunting yards, deciding where to put the sidings for the carriages and then adding cars, buildings and figures to scale and, over time, adding entire villages, viaducts, tunnels through mountains created out of papier-mâché, background scenery and then wiring in an entire electric signalling and points system.
With the appearance of the microchip it was suddenly possible to have locomotives making the correct noise. It was fiddly and time-consuming work but a very rewarding hobby.
So much so that I have decided to build an authentic South African model railway. It will have no track, a pile of small crushed stones in a bed of diet representing where the stations would have been, some old pieces of rusted metal representing the vandalised buildings plus a few burnt out carriages and I’ve been busy cutting old plastic bags into very small pieces to sprinkle over the whole layout. I’m not sure it will make the cover of ‘Model Railroader’ but at least I will know that it is proudly South African.