Ed Herbst: ANC spine-stiffening on graft like an illness or anxiety disorder

CAPE TOWN — One definition of the word endemic – usually reserved for describing disease, but more commonly used in South Africa to describe political corruption – is; “regularly found among particular people or in a certain area”. Well, that’s true of the Zuptoids, whose tentacles reach into every state institution designed for service delivery but transmuted into vehicles for the enrichment of a “particular people (and) in a certain area”. The Gupta-captured faction of the ANC executive and its generally richer membership, are the particular people. The area is wherever Cabinet and Parliament meet. Yet somehow the word ‘endemic’ doesn’t do this justice. Corruption and fraud are everywhere you look. I think any one of these words; all-pervasive, extensive, ubiquitous and omnipresent, are better. If you need any persuading that this is true, a read of Ed Herbst’s treatise on trickery and deception below should convince you. Or wait: Perhaps he’s an agent of foreign forces, hand-picked by the CIA and MI5 to sow confusion and distrust among the masses via an imperialistic, white monopoly capital-driven news website? Either that or he’s an excellent journalist with brilliant institutional memory and a penchant for discomforting research. Take your pick – but first, read this. – Chris Bateman

Demonstrators carry placards as they march to protest against corruption in Cape Town, South Africa September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

By Ed Herbst*

But Sexwale is correct in suggesting that more and more ANC members are publicly calling for Zuma to stand down. You may think of it, as some do, as an outbreak of spine in the party, an epidemic of backbone.

More cynically, nothing brings out the backstabbing bastards so much as a man on his knees. And uBaba is that man.

Andrew Donaldson Weekend Argus 27/5/2017

The sudden outbreak of conscience within the African National Congress invokes the cynic in one and brings to mind two apposite quotes from Groucho Marx:

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

The sudden discovery by the ANC of spinal rectitude is driven by that most powerful of motivational emotions, fear.

Veteran journalist Ed Herbst

In this case it is the fear of losing deployed cadre perks after the 2019 election, so donning white raiment is felt to be appropriate under the circumstances, albeit while Lootfreely House and its Tammany Hall counterpart, Chancellor House, secretly fantasise about another TRC – the Trough and Redistribution Commission.

I have always said that the SABC is South Africa in microcosm and the suggestion by the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Andy Mothibi that the latest multi-billion snouting epidemic, with its inevitable Zupta connection, should be investigated, does invoke justifiable scepticism.

He seems to have conveniently forgotten their previous stillborn SABC investigation which cost you and me a mere R20 million and had Absolutely No Consequences.

In case he’s forgotten, President Jacob Zuma granted permission for this SIU investigation in November 2010 after an Auditor General report a year previously had found corruption was systemic at the ANC-controlled state broadcaster.

In March 2012 parliament was told that nothing of consequence had been done to implement the AG’s SABC findings in 2009.

Nothing happened

In August 2012 the SIU made its findings known but nothing happened.

A year later, in September 2013, DA communications spokesperson, Marian Shinn, appealed to President Jacob Zuma to table the SIU report in parliament, and pointed out that the corruption the SABC was proceeding apace. She called for further investigations by the SIU.

You can read about it here and here, (the latter article containing the Auditor General’s report and the SIU report) but I’ll sum up the essence of the SIU findings. This was big news at the time. The Sunday Times ran a front page lead about the millions peculated through a simple system of over invoicing when Matilda Gaboo, the very close friend of Matthews Phosa, was in charge of programme acquisition at the SABC. But that’s a cornerstone of the Tsunami of Sleaze – the scandal has to be relentless, hour by hour, so that today’s scandal is quickly forgotten as it is overtaken by the next.

Matilda Gaboo – International Acquisitions


  • The role of content buyers became obsolete after the formation of Internal Acquisitions unit as Ms Gaboo played a significant role in the acquisition of content.
  • The acquisition process became secretive and acquisitions were made without communication of channel’s needs.
  • As a result of acquisitions made by Ms Gaboo, SABC ended up with high volumes of redundant inventory and impairment losses of about R170m.
  • SABC suffered revenue and reputational losses.


Investigation Status:

Allegations of kickbacks are still under investigation.

SIU is finalising the docket, however, the matter has been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). SIU criminal law practitioners drafted a charge sheet and made it available to the investigating officer.

Inevitably, nothing has been done in this regard and perhaps Andy Mothibi can tell us the reasons for this and why, by the way, nothing further has been heard about the prosecution of Dali Mpofu’s Elephant Consortium partner, Mafika Sihlali, who last appeared in court several years ago.  If he needs any more information he can find it here.

Very close friend

Matilda Gaboo, as pointed out in the aforementioned articles, told her former SABC colleagues that she was the very, very, close friend of Matthews Phosa who has let it be known that he regards himself as presidential material.

Unsurprisingly, (this is the African National Congress we are talking about) just as nothing further has been heard about the previous SIU investigation into the SABC, nothing further has been heard about the R120 million donated without due diligence by the captured Industrial Development Corporation to the Alliance Mining company which closed its doors upon receipt of the money – ask Stuart Theobald and Phakamisa Ndzamela, they’ll tell you. Mathews Phosa and Matilda Gaboo had a significant BEE stake in the company.

R120 million!

That’s a fairly corpulent smolanyana skeleton by my standards – somewhat more than the R25 million allegedly coerced out of Goldfields on behalf of Baleka Mbete with the less than subtle threat that if they didn’t cough up they would not get a license for their South Deep mine – but still …

Mbete also regards herself as presidential material but it’s all, as Onkgopotse JJ Tabane pointed out on Daily Maverick, ‘a race to the bottom’. This is a trenchant observation given the fact that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did everything in her power to keep a serial sexual predator, Norman Mashabane, in a position where he could continue his assaults until she was thwarted by our courts and Mashabane was, perforce, deployed to another position. Not to mention, of course, the Sarafina II scandal which effectively kick-started corruption in this country.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma with Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Still, in the ANC’s junk status ‘good story to tell’, South Africa, any conversion, Damascene or otherwise, any commitment to the straight and narrow and the path of righteousness – however belated – is grasped with the desperation of a drowning person clinging to a piece of driftwood.

The initial euphoria, though, quickly dims when reality sets in.

Sorry parade

I was, like everyone else, impressed when Vincent Smith, the chairman of the ad hoc commission investigating yet another state broadcaster collapse on the watch of the ANC, roundly condemned the sorry parade of perjurers – deployed cadres in the main – who had been paraded before them.

We were even more impressed when he suggested that they should go to jail.

Although we might be giddy with euphoria about the final decanting of the Toxic Cocktail and absolutely stoked about the welcome resignation from the Eskom board of the malevolent, wannabe mining magnate Ben Ngubane – who told parliament that broadcasting the Gupta New Age breakfast shows did not cost the SABC a cent – reality must, unavoidably, intrude.

One of the cornerstones of the ANC’s Tsunami of Sleaze is that even if, as a deployed cadre, you are caught in flagrante and up to both armpits in the cookie jar, you will, in the goodness of time and after resigning, be re-deployed to a safer and hopefully more profitable sinecure. No effort will be made to prosecute and no effort will be made to recover the snouted money – ask Dina Pule, she’ll tell you.

The only proviso is that you steal from the fiscus and not from ANC constituency funds as did Cynthia Maropeng.

And if, through political machination or sheer bad luck you go to jail, like Tony Yengeni and Alan Boesak, your ululating comrades, Baleka Mbete, Ebrahim Rasool, Max Ozinsky et al will accompany you to the prison gates in admiring solidarity.

After the party

Apropos Vincent Smith’s suggestion that the SABC perjurers should face severe sanction, I refer you to After the Party by Andrew Feinstein. Feinstein avers – and he has not been sued for defamation – that Smith worked assiduously and with no little relish, to prevent those guilty of Arms Deal corruption from facing any form of sanction whatsoever. Feinstein alleges that Smith made every effort to undermine the Scopa investigation in which he and Gavin Woods played a singular and exemplary role

Here are a few examples from Feinstein’s book:

    • The only dissension came from Vincent Smith, a little-known Gauteng MP whose abrasive manner had sat uneasily with the committee since his recent arrival.  P159
    • When Vincent started to accuse me of wanting to damage the ANC and especially the Executive, my resistance broke. P190
    • Whenever any matter arose that might cause embarrassment to the ANC leadership, Vincent Smith would begin filibustering, ensuring that the meetings lost direction and resolved nothing. P198
  • The ANC members demanded a special meeting to discuss Gavin’s remarks, at which Vincent Smith, rude and aggressive, warned Gavin not to speak on behalf of the committee without consulting its members first. Gavin pointed out that he was quite entitled to speak in his personal capacity. I was mortified by the ANC’s conduct. It was not just the pathetic attempt to silence Gavin in his quite legitimate attack on the Speaker, but also the boorish, arrogant manner in which it was done. P201
  • Towards the end of the month Vincent Smith began to leak my resignation and his imminent rise to head the ANC component of the committee. It was time to bring my political career to a formal end. P206
  • After Parliament’s pitiful handling of the report, Gavin wrote a conciliatory letter to all the members of Scopa suggesting a new beginning for the committee. Vincent Smith rejected it out of hand. It was clear the ANC wanted his head. P216

We all come to new insights as we get older though, and we can but hope that, like Saul in Acts 9:1–22, Smith’s vision is now somewhat clearer than it was back then.

Supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) cheer during their party’s final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Wanton wallowing

One harbours similar hopes for Siphiwe Nyanda who has also joined the ranks of the disaffected who are calling for an end to the wanton wallowing in the trough which, under the ANC, has come to characterise Africa’s newest kleptocracy.

Could this be the same Siphiwe Nyanda who, as a matter of repeated record …

This newly acquired backbone is too little, too late I’m afraid because public confidence in the African National Congress has been profoundly if not irreparably shaken and with good reason.

Recent polls show that its credibility is in tatters and that loss of faith goes back a long way because nobody is ever held to account – all the country’s multitudinous failures are the fault of ‘the collective’ and you can’t try, let alone jail the collective.

Nobody went to jail for the R2 billion Land Bank scam and nobody went to jail for the R2 billion that was leached from Cape Town municipality coffers on the watch of ANC mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo. She was rewarded with a splendid house and, in case she needed further technical assistance, Thabo Mokwena who, with her approval, snouted several million in the Jewellery City scam – for which he did nothing and provided nothing – was hired as her special adviser. All this happened when I was a television news reporter at the SABC’s Sea Point office and we were forbidden from reporting on this pervasive ANC graft – nothing new there, move along please.

Mafia state

So why would anyone expect an SABC snouter to go to jail when they take their cue from those who have created the mafia state and sit at its pinnacle?

We need to lance the abscess though and perhaps the hacked Zupta emails will give us an opportunity of doing that.

State capture is all the talk in the media. It basically means that the Guptas are running the show. More magic available at jerm.co.za

More than anything, however, we need hope and that hope will burgeon if Andy Mothibi acts upon the recommendations by his colleagues contained in the SIU’s SABC report of 2012. Whether this happens, though, is moot because the SIU, like all the other ANC-controlled state institutions, seems to be a bit deurmekaar at the moment.

In closing: I see that the adulterous, aspirant Dandy, Malusi Gigaba, the cadre who did unspeakable damage to South African tourism in his previous post as Minister of Home Affairs, is in a spot of bother because he fast-tracked the Gupta residence permits.  It will be of some consolation to him to know that he is in good company. One of his predecessors in parliament, Peet de Pontes, the pro-apartheid National Party MP from the Eastern Cape, displayed a similar level of ubuntu towards an equally charming fellow, Vito Palazzolo.

But while the peccadillos and peculations of the ANC’s innumerable bottom feeders provide a never-ending source of disbelief at the party’s shamelessness, let us never forget that South African soldiers sacrificed their lives elsewhere in Africa to protect the mining interests of the Zuptas.

  • Ed Herbst is a retired veteran journalist who writes in his own capacity.
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