What IMF-types might think upon meeting Zuma and his cabinet confidantes

Stephen Mulholland

Using famous exhortations from long-dead British opposition politicians for their leaders to go won’t exactly endear retired editor and publishing CEO, Stephen Mulholland, to the ANC rank and file. But then seeking popularity among any rank and file anywhere was never his style. Here he goes back in history to remind South Africans of what is necessary to begin political reform in South Africa and end corrupt rule – and of just how the world now sees us. With his trademark forthrightness, Mulholland believes South Africa has become Zimbabwe on steroids, when it comes to the speed at which it is degenerating into a failed state. This represents a marked change from when he would describe the beloved country to foreigners as Zimbabwe in slow motion. In a reprise of the Zuptoids most infamous exploits, the line that resonates most perhaps is where he speculates on what IMF and World Bank types would think after interacting with Zuma and his “innumerate mob of thieves”. Regardless of how accurate their making a deeply negative impression might be, even a generous suspension of judgement would be nigh impossible, given their track record. – Chris Bateman

By Stephen Mulholland*

In the USA last year I was asked to describe South Africa in one sentence, my inquisitor being a curt Texan of few words.

My response was: “Zimbabwe in slow motion.”

More magic available at

Today I would say it is Zimbabwe at a sprint. And leading us down the path to perdition is that well-known satyr, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, an incompetent, lecherous bungler who has single-handedly brought our nation’s currency to its knees and its economy stalled.

In this he emulated his henchman, Robert Mugabe, who ruined the once flourishing Zimbabwean economy, destroying his nation’s currency in the process. Today there are some 250,000 Zimbabwean citizens living legally in South Africa and at least 2m here as illegal migrants.

File Photo: Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. Photographer: Mick Booth/Bloomberg News

There is a joke in South Africa that, when, finally, Mugabe, that ancient and crooked autocrat, goes to his reward and Zimbabwe starts to recover, we wilI have no waiters left in South Africa.

Due to Zuma and his criminal accomplices we are now pariahs in international circles, reduced to hiding money in dubious Arab states, aided and abetted by the likes of Vladimir Putin who obviously seeks to rip more billions from us via nuclear deals in which the Zuma family and their partners in crime, The Guptas, will no doubt reap vast profits.

Zuma flits about the world in great luxury, playing the international statesman at the expense of the taxpayers, giggling inanely, appointing vast cabinets of cronies with a plethora of ministers, deputy ministers, special advisors, an army of security guards, fleets of luxury vehicles, luxurious homes and endless trips around the world accompanied by hordes of hangers on, usually including family members and friends of the family.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as they say in Texas, unemployment is close to 30%, crime rates are soaring, health care is collapsing, education is crumbling and Zuma is giggling. And as he does so in his ignorant and arrogant manner.

In the midst of all this Zuma shuffles his cabinet like some Las Vegas dealer does with a pack of cards. And when he hires and fires those in highly specialised portfolios such as finance he appears to oblivious to the damage he is wreaking on the nation.

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Billions of the national wealth are destroyed overnight due to Zuma’s capricious wheeling and dealing, expulsion of internationally respected minister such as Pravin Gordhan who has represented our country with great distinction at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

God help us if Zuma or any his gang interacted with IMF or the World Bank. They are an innumerate mob of thieves which would rapidly become apparent to anyone of decent education and a career in international finance.

This mob increasingly resembles those whom London’s prestigious Financial Times last week accused of replicating “the looting and rent extraction that has ruined so many other African states.” And not only do Zuma’s gang of thieves look after themselves, they also share the spoils of state capture by bestowing gifts from the national treasury (the taxpayer’s money) on foreign money-grubbers such  the shady Gupta gangsters and their criminal accomplices among whom they can count members of which we laughingly describe as a cabinet of ministers of state.

Meanwhile Zuma has the outrageous cheek to claim that: “It is the ANC that waged the war, together with the alliance, to fight corruption in South Africa. It has also gone further to establish institutions in government and it has arrested those who are corrupt. It is the only organisation and its government that has fought corruption,” he said.

This from a philandering thug who faces almost 800 charges of corruption on the last day he departs the Union Building to become again an ordinary citizen. This from a conspirator who freely associates with the amoral Gupta family and is proud of his family links with this disreputable mob, with whom no respectable bank is prepared to do business.

Lie down with dogs, sir, and you get up with fleas.

In the British parliament in 1939 the Conservative luminary, Leo Amery, staring across at the prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, called out: “We are fighting to-day for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are…This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go”.

This is the message which South Africans, of all races, must send to Zuma before he destroys us.

  • Stephen Mulholland is a retired editor and publishing CEO. In 1966 he founded the Sunday Times Business Times. He was editor of the Financial Mail and Business Day and SA correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. He was CEO of Times Media Limited and the Fairfax group in Australia.
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