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Action at last

28th August 2020

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The country is beginning to see some big names being asked to account for fraud and corruption

Mr President, I feel delirious. It is a splendourous day in Mzansi. This obviously has nothing to do with the privilege, or is it a right, of possessing legal booze as well as lawfully obtained and branded cigarettes. As you know me by now, I am even grateful for the level-two regulations as announced by the “Prime Minister”. Truth be told, I am most thankful for the beer. That Saturday night address (family meeting) to the nation ranks as your Covid-19 epoch-making speech. You threw caution to the wind, literally. Small mercies. Tops is open. Asiphuzeni!

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Mr President, my sunny disposition is derived from the latest news feed. I know, I know. I am funny like that. Most people find the news boring. News is depressing, yada yada. Well, not this August. I danced on top of my writing table as news broke (when news breaks, we fix it) that the moribund Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has frozen bank accounts holding more than R100-million. The bank accounts belong to the trio — Ledla Structural Development, Royal Bhaca Projects (belonging to the self-appointed monarch of the AmaBhaca nation, and husband to the presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko) and Mediwaste. These companies are at the centre of the personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal that has rocked the Gauteng Health Department. This happened in less than a month since the proclamation to investigate the PPE scandal was signed. Impressive stuff. Perhaps this means a real “Thuma Mina” moment. Perhaps. I am now awaiting the Presidency’s media release announcing the fall of one Khusela Diko from her post as presidential spokesperson to attend to the family tender matters on a fulltime basis. Hope! We live in hope. As discussed last week, I am a shoo-in for the post of presidential spokesperson, mainly because I have that Hlaudi (former SABC COO) thingy. No one alive is like me. I am a special kid. Take that, haters.

In the same week, the Department of Public Enterprises applauded the SIU’s work at Transnet for the attachment of assets and bank accounts linked to former Transnet Capital Projects executive Herbert Msagala and relatives. The order to attach assets was made by the newly formed Special Tribunal, and it includes 35 luxury vehicles, properties and two farms. The news of the seizure came hot on the heels of steps taken by Eskom and the SIU to recoup funds lost to state capture corruption in the region of some R3.8-billion. Eskom and the SIU are gunning for former Eskom employees Brian Molefe (him of the Saxonwold shebeen fame), Anoj Singh, loudmouth Matshela Koko as well as Suzanne Margaret Daniels. Eskom also seeks damages against non-executive directors, including former board chair Ben Ngubane and others. Included in the rogue line-up are Mosebenzi Zwane (former minister of Mineral Resources), Salim Aziz Essa (Gupta lieutenant) and the infamous Gupta brothers.

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This week, the Estina Dairy Farm architects, including Mbana “Peter” Thabethe, former Free State head of the Department of Agriculture, appeared alongside other suspects in the Bloemfontein Regional Court. The five were arrested by the Hawks and released on bail, and will soon join businessperson Lenah Mohapi and Seipati Dlamini in the dock. They all face charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering amounting to R244-million. The only missing suspect is the alleged mastermind by the name of Ace Magashule. I am told if we get Ace, business confidence will shoot up by 42,5%. Mr President, congratulations on these latest developments. At least we see some big names being held accountable such as former minister Zwane, Ngubane, Molefe and a former head of department. The day of reckoning is indeed nigh.

However, my recurrent nightmare hasn’t ceased yet, but has taken a new form. I now only see the black, green and gold party devotees in a mean mood. Last night, I saw a gathering of party lackeys led by Carl Niehaus, questioning your understanding of the National Democratic Revolution. According to Niehaus, all anointed comrades (not all comrades are equal) have a right to eat. Any attempts to stop the feeding at the trough threaten to derail the gains of the “nine lost years”. I heard Oliver Tambo sound a warning that the day of reckoning will arrive for these thugs in suits. “All the thieves and imigodoyi who steal public funds will one day face the music,” Tambo said. One day is one day. Until next week, my man, let’s get your comrades in on the search-and-seizure games. “Send me.”

This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube, a former Zulu ambassador based in Pretoria, now a self-appointed head of the tenderinitis special advisory panel. He is an author and former senior Witness political journalist.

This opinion piece was first published in the Witness.

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