Cyril! Clarens is calling….

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been challenged to visit Clarens in the Eastern Free State to be given advice on the implementation of poverty-relief programmes. The invitation comes from Garth Brook – an implementing agent for the past 16 years –  who says: “And what we’ll do is we’ll explain very carefully to Mr. Ramaphosa what it is we need in order for his poverty relief projects to work. It’s not difficult and it’s very easy work.” Brook’s public appeal to the President comes after threats to blacklist him if he spoke out about his latest battles with officialdom. “They have told me that if I talk to you and I report this to you on your programme, I will be blacklisted.” According to Brook, the poorest of the poor are left even poorer by non-payment for projects; interference by municipal officials in projects funded by national government; and exploitation of workers by greedy implementers.


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Timestamps below

00:34 – Garth Brook on some of the projects he’s been involved in

10:59 – On dealings with the municipality 

11:52 – Non action by the government

13:05 – On if he’s engaged with the various government departments on national level

19:07 – On potentially being blacklisted

19:50 – Plea to President Ramaphosa


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President Cyril Ramaphosa has been challenged to visit Clarens in the Eastern Free State to be given advice on the implementation of poverty-relief projects.

The invitation comes from Garth Brook – an implementing agent for the past 16 years –  who says: “And what we’ll do is we’ll explain very carefully to Mr. Ramaphosa what it is we need in order for his poverty relief projects to work. It’s not difficult and it’s very easy work.”

Brook’s public appeal to the President comes after threats to blacklist him if he spoke out about his latest battles with officialdom. “They have told me that if I talk to you and I report this to you on your programme, I will be blacklisted.”

According to Brook, the poorest of the poor are left even poorer by non-payment for projects;

interference by municipal officials in projects funded by national government; and exploitation of workers by greedy implementers.

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In one project, certain municipal officials wanted to control which “poor” people got employed. “I was told we have to employ the poorest of the poor. The municipal guys come in and say: ‘You know, you must employ that woman. She’s poor.’ You look at her, and she’s got her high heels on to die for. Gucci, you know, all kind of zootie stuff. 

“And then you see this other very poor woman standing there with a plastic bag, a Checker’s bag or something. And you find out that these municipal guys are trying to get you as an implementer, trying to force you directly to employ their family, their daughters and their daughters and their more daughters. So there’s the whole family that are getting two and a half (then) thousand times four, you know, and Papa takes the money and he can get drunk every night…Doesn’t work like that. And I made myself very unpopular with the municipality, extremely unpopular.”

Brook says many municipal officials were simply not in it for “the cause that the government, the current government is talking about”.

“It’s like two different governments. I mean, the one is busy stealing from them, the other one’s busy giving. And it’s shocking that they could sit in the same room. I mean, the one guy that came to the project, a counsellor, he owns a church. He was charging the staff, the girls that were working, he tried to charge them 100 grand each for getting the job, which he claimed was him that got them the job on the particular project.”

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One municipality even demanded “rates and taxes” for a project Brook worked on. “I caught them counting the toilets. I said to the guy from the municipality: ‘What are you doing counting the toilets?’ He says: ‘Well, we don’t know what to tax you.’ And I said: ‘Yes, we’ve got eight toilets for women and three toilets for men. Now what do you want to do?’ So he says: ‘well, eight and 11 times the extra amount of money, that’s what you’re going to pay each month.’ Stuff like that. And they’re in it for the bucks. They just want cash, cash. That’s all they want.

“So you’ve got Pretoria paying you, then you pay the municipality…You know, this is not what it’s all about. The money, the total sum of money should go into the pockets of the poor. That’s what the whole project’s all about. That’s what you give the money for. And those poor people will then divide it amongst themselves because you’ve got a family of four. And I don’t know how the hell you live off R3000 rand and you feed four people, but they do.”

When he first arrived in Clarens, Brook found some of poor employees working for food instead of getting paid cash as they were supposed to. “They would be given a couple of groceries, a couple of beans, a bit of one or two potatoes, an orange or something like that, and told to get on with it, while the implementer would keep the money.”

Brook feels this is making a mockery of poverty relief. “Everybody’s talking about poverty relief. We’re gonna help these poor black people. We’re not; we’re screwing the black people. We’re forcing them further down, pushing them into nothing. And the hardest thing to do was to get a woman’s dignity back. Now remember, she’s got two or three kids struggling like hell. She’ll say ‘yes’ to anything to get food.

“And these municipalities prey on it. That’s how they survive. They talk absolute bullshit to these poor people and they believe them and they vote for them. You know: ‘tomorrow’s fine, we’ll be fine tomorrow’. Tomorrow never comes.”

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